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Firefighters, police, EMTs and other First Responders are often held up as examples of honorable service. They remind us that we are all called to contribute; we are all called to serve. Honorable service is a central duty of citizenship in a free society and essential to the success of the Republic. We musicians have a special mission. We are specifically called to use our skills and gifts to inspire and lift up the community. This is what is meant by “SERVICE THROUGH MUSIC.” As a prelude to our trip to New York, members of The Band Directors Marching Band were invited to produce local SERVICE THROUGH MUSIC performances in their hometowns with their own students. These events were designed to honor First Responders and took place on or around September 11, 2023. Below are reports of various local SERVICE THROUGH MUSIC projects that took place across the country.
Prior to its appearance in the 2023 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, the 400 members of The Band Directors Marching Band are scheduled to perform the National Anthem and Amazing Grace near the 9/11 Memorial in New York City on November 20. Photos and videos will be posted here following the event.
On Friday, September 8, 2023, the East Palestine High School Band, under the direction of BDMB trumpet player Jennifer Mollenkopf and conducted by drum major Addison Bycroft, took a moment to remember those First Responders lost on 9/11. The band honored the brave men and women who ran into danger without a second thought, as well as local heroes who have more than earned appreciation and respect for their acts of heroism. “Thank you” seems too small a phrase.
In a pregame ceremony, the East Palestine High School Band joined forces with the Lisbon David Anderson High School Band to pay tribute to First Responders, by inviting any in attendance to come to the track near the 50 yard line and be recognized. Those who were able represent all those who have gone before, and those who continue to serve today.
Service Through Music is a way to say thank you to those who put their lives on the line for others; and to show our gratitude. The combined bands performed Rob Grice's “Amazing Grace.” The bands remained on the field for a combined National Anthem, in the spirit of true patriotism and sportsmanship.
For East Palestine, recognizing First Responders is especially meaningful in light of the train derailment in February 2023. East Palestine witnessed firsthand the true bravery and selflessness of those who serve the town. This Service Through Music project is a way to say thank you!
Congratulations to the East Palestine High School Band of East Palestine, Ohio!
The East Palestine High School Band performs at the September 9 football game pregame ceremony honoring First Responders
The East Palestine High School Band
Middle school band students in Leicester, Massachusetts honored local First Responders by performing a September 11 Remembrance Program. The event was organized by LMS music teacher Kristina Looney who is a trumpet player in The Band Directors Marching Band. The event included a performance of “Call to the Heroes” by Chris Bernotas, a piece inspired by the tenth anniversary of 9/11.
“It’s important to honor First Responders on 9/11 and every other day because they deserve to be appreciated for all the important work that they constantly do within their communities,” said one band member. Another added, “It truly was an honor to perform for the First Responders of our town. I felt like I was giving back a bit to them after they have done so much for our citizens.” School officials hope that the memorial program will become an annual tradition.
Thank you to the Leicester Middle School Symphonic Band for using music to honor First Responders in their community.
The Leicester Middle School Symphonic Band performs on 9/11
Leicester Middle School Symphonic Band members with area First Responders
The University of North Carolina at Pembroke “Spirit of the Carolinas” Marching Band performed an arrangement of “America, the Beautiful” in front of the university’s administration building on September 11, 2023.
Meggan Hollis, assistant director of the UNC Pembroke Marching Band and piccolo player in The Band Directors Marching Band, sends this report:
"For our project, the UNC Pembroke “Spirit of the Carolinas” Marching Band, joined by a few music faculty and staff, performed an arrangement of 'America, the Beautiful.' According to the Library of Congress, this song has been called 'an expression of patriotism at its finest,' and 'conveys an attitude of appreciation and gratitude for the nation's extraordinary physical beauty and abundance, without triumphalism.' We dedicate this performance to all First Responders, not just those who lost their lives 22 years ago, but the heroic men and women who show up in difficult situations ready to help and risk their own lives to keep our neighborhoods safe. Thank you for serving and being heroes in the community. We appreciate you!"
Here is a video of the 9/11 performance at UNC Pembroke: https://youtu.be/mHJcOfAmQEI
Congratulations to the Spirit of the Carolinas Marching Band for SERVICE THROUGH MUSIC in their 9/11 performance!
The UNC Pembroke “Spirit of the Carolinas” Marching Band
Senatobia, Mississippi was the location of a significant ceremony on Thursday, September 14, 2023. Local First Responders stood before the audience and were recognized for their important work. The recognition took place at the Hinds vs. Northwest football game at Northwest. Thirty-four honored guests stood before a 70-foot United States flag as the Ranger Marching Band performed “Amazing Grace.”
The Northwest Mississippi Community College Ranger Marching Band is directed by Tim Garrett who is a trumpet player in The Band Directors Marching Band. Thank you to the Ranger Marching Band for your SERVICE THROUGH MUSIC!
The Northwest Mississippi Community College Ranger Marching Band
The Morgan High School Marching Band helped organize, and participated in a veterans program on Saturday, September 9, 2023. The band performed at the Morgan County Fair honoring veterans from across the entire county.
Four band students participated in the program by reciting The Pledge of Allegiance and reading prepared comments about Veterans Day. The 40-member band also performed: "The Star Spangled Banner," "Amazing Grace" (as a tribute to Purple Heart Veterans), "Salute to America's Finest" (honoring all five branches of the military), and then Abigail Heigley (11th grade trumpet player) performed "Taps" (in memory of all Morgan County veterans who passed away since last year’s fair). Over one hundred people and 50 Veterans were in attendance. Multiple veterans commented on how special it was to have our program, and to have so many kids represented in a service thanking veterans.
Chase Myers directs the Morgan High School Marching Band and is an alto saxophone player in The Band Directors Marching Band. Joseph Capozzio is assistant director and Loretta Davis is color guard instructor. Morgan High School is located in McConnelsville, Ohio. Thank you to the Morgan High School Marching Band for using music in service to the community!
The Morgan High School Marching Band plays "Taps" at the Morgan County Fair on September 9
The Morgan High School Marching Band performs in a program recognizing veterans
Hayley Winslow (trumpet), Mike Winslow (trombone), Audrey Wood (clarinet), and Jared Nicholson (trumpet) are all members of The Band Directors Marching Band. They are also colleagues at the Washington County School District in St. George City, Utah. The directors filed this report about their SERVICE THROUGH MUSIC project:
St. George City, UT has a regular “Concerts in the Park” performance series. The concert this month took place on Monday, September 11th. Our students are all in middle school and range from one year of playing experience to four years. We have only been in school with instruments for three weeks, so we knew this goal would be a challenge not only for our students, but for us as well. We chose three pieces: “American Patrol,” “Hymn to the Fallen,” and “The Star Spangled Banner.” We chose these pieces so that every student would be able to perform at least one piece based on their level and to fit the theme of honoring our First Responders. In addition, we asked all of our students to complete an assignment by responding to one of two options:
Option 1: Select someone you know who is a First Responder. How does this person’s work benefit the community? What sacrifices are required by this person to ensure our safety and freedoms? What would our community be like without their service?
Option 2: What is freedom? Why are your freedoms important to you? How does the work of First Responders help protect our freedoms and safety?
Students responded to these questions in detailed and humbling ways; some with stories about their immigration experiences and others with stories about First Responder family members. All student responses were thoughtful and moving.
We wanted to bring our New York City experience to the students by adding a wreath ceremony to the event. Each school (Snow Canyon Middle School, Sunrise Ridge Intermediate School, and Crimson Cliffs Middle School) laid a wreath to honor a different sector of our First Responders or Veterans. This was especially moving.
The best comment of the evening came from one of our superintendents. She said, “After you rehearsed, these kids ran around, ate pizza, played tag, and went right to the playground. As soon as they were called back, they knew their role and became musicians! They sat next to kids in rival schools yet were one team!” The best part about our project was not how well we played, but about how united we were. We truly saw and heard service from these kids.
Congratulations to students and directors in St. George City for their outstanding SERVICE THROUGH MUSIC project using their musical gifts to support and lift up the community!
Middle schoolers from St. George City, Utah perform at a Concert in the Park on September 11
Middle schoolers from St. George City, Utah perform at a Concert in the Park on September 11
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