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As you may or may not know, my daughter has been playing the trumpet since fifth grade and LOVES it. Music…anything art related really…it’s her thing. Gee, I wonder where she gets that from? This year, her eighth grade year, she joined the SPIRIT OF WOODLAN marching band.

Wow. Is that A LOT of hard work. They practice Tuesdays and Thursdays after school until 9, with an hour for dinner. Fridays they practice after school until  5…and if there is a football game they stay to do the half-time show.


WHY SO MUCH PRACTICE THESE ARE KIDS HOLY MOLY? There is much to learn. Choreography. You must get from one point on the field to another in so many steps, weaving in and out of the other band members, making sure your walking just the right way…making sure you are facing the drum major…making sure you have your instrument at the ready…and ALL WHILE PLAYING MUSIC THAT YOU HAD TO MEMORIZE.


They march in parades and participate in marching band competitions, where they perform their show, titled Pyramids of Egypt. There are costumes for the color guard and props to set the scene…THIS IS A BIG DEAL!

I had no idea.

Their first competition was Saturday, September 10th. First let me say that competition days, which will be every Saturday until the end of October, are long days. They get to school, practice for a couple of hours, eat lunch (provided and served by the awesome band moms!), practice more, load the truck, get on a bus, travel, arrive, unload the truck, dress in their uniforms, go off for warm-ups until performance time, play, get out of the uniforms, load the truck, wait for awards, then get back on the bus and go back to school, unload the truck, and finally go home. When I say load the truck…all their instruments, the four big carts holding their uniforms (including hats and shoes), the color guard’s flags, and all the props, which include screens for the front, a small pyramid for the front, four sets of two palm trees, and eventually they will add a large pyramid for the back (building still in progress).

At the first competition, they placed fourth out of six and were a mere three points out of first. Dude. It was close. They were disappointed.


Last Saturday they traveled to Dekalb. Judges awarded best music to… WOODLAN! Best visual to…WOODLAN! Best effects to…WOODLAN! And we won first place!



In the midst of their celebrations back at the buses, their fearless leader Mr. Slattery, returns with news of their scores.

He told them, to be happy, BUT… we won by the tiniest of margins.

Here’s how we can improve.

Here’s where we step up and do better.

Here’s where we don’t get comfortable.

And as the crowd of teenagers quieted, as they all turned to him with serious faces, the glory of winning still shone in their eyes, but was edged with something else…determination.


These kids work damn hard. (OMG Kathy swore!) WELL THEY DO!

So many hours of learning steps, of getting those steps just right, of memorizing music, of playing it over and over to make it sound better each time, of tossing flags and catching them, of all coming together to move as one. All for a few minutes on a field, hoping that at that moment it all works. As we all know, sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t.

But we never settle for okay. We never take that one trophy and say, “Thanks, I guess we got this and don’t have to try anymore.”


We strive to be better. Always. Never stop learning. Never stop improving. Never stop growing. Another step exists on the path, even if we can’t see it.

So the band took home their trophies with smiles and with the knowledge that they can and will do better. As much work as they do, as tired as they get, they’ll do it because they love it. They love the music. They love their band. They love their school.

They love each other. Seriously, band kids ROCK! I’m certainly proud of mine.

GO SPIRIT OF WOODLAN! You got this. And just because…here are a few pics of the band’s show…The Pyramid’s of Egypt.