Monday, April 3, 2006
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Yes....It Can Rain On Your Parade by Diana Williams
This year I had the extreme pleasure of being selected to take the Webb City High School Band to the 117th Tournament of Roses Parade. What a great trip! It was the best experience of my career. Being a part of this event brought my students closer together, and gave them the greatest sense of accomplishment that I have ever witnessed.
The most frequent question that I have been asked is, “How do you apply?” Go to the website: www.tournamentofroses.com and click on band application. Be aware that you are applying TWO years in advance. You will need video footage of your band - both marching and playing. They want to see different views of your ensemble - from the front, high view, in passing, and if possible, while turning. The Tournament is looking for sharp uniforms that look great on the street. They want to hear the full ensemble and a small segment of the percussion cadence. Big brass sounds and high energy is the key. You will need several letters of recommendations. The recommendations need to come from several different sources: perhaps your superintendent, a successful band director who has had their band in the Rose Parade, key state officials, your mayor, etc. Providing information on how you will have the funds available is also needed. This trip is expensive. Make sure you have your booster club, school district, and students on board before you send that application. It will take EVERYONE involved in your program to make this trip happen. Once you have the packet together, the deadline is in May. Make sure your portfolio is organized and professional looking. The band selection committee will divide the applications into regions, and begin the selection process. I had two phone interviews in the summer before we received the invitation. The final invitations will be in the mail by September. Once you accept, LET THE FUNDRAISING BEGIN!
The trip itself is truly a once in a lifetime trip for your students! Selecting a GOOD travel company who has been involved with the Tournament of Roses is a must. We used Grueninger Tours - who has over 10 years of involvement with the Rose Parade and they have the best seats for your parents who travel with you. Our band did all of the typical California sites: Disneyland, Universal Studios, Hollywood, Medieval Times, Santa Monica Pier, and Farmer's Market. The student spent about 3 hours working on the ESPN float, cutting and gluing flowers on the float - what a great experience! On Sunday morning, we also attended church service at the Crystal Cathedral. There are so many options for your students, and honestly, you cannot do everything! So pick and choose the events that best suit your band.
Preparation for the parade was probably the most tedious part of the entire process. There is a lot of paperwork, and a great deal of phone calls. The greatest part is watching your band grow and improve as the date gets closer. Physical and mental endurance is an important factor in being successful and you will have minimal injuries if the band is in shape. Having the “chops” to play throughout the route is especially important. The parade lasts about 2 1/2 hours, and yes, it is every bit of the 5 1/2 miles you hear about! But with proper training, your students will not have any problem finishing the parade. We finished the parade with zero students falling out! Even with the torrential downpour that we experienced!
The parade route is absolutely incredible - with over a million spectators along the way shaking your hand, screaming “Great job!” at the kids, and hearing “Happy New Year” in several different languages. The opening section of the parade is called “TV ROW” where all of the television and publicity cameras are located. This is the most incredible scene for the band - cameras coming right up in their face and the crowd is intense! Even with the rain, the crowd did not let up and was full of excitement along the entire route.
Despite the rain, we had an incredible trip - one that was truly magical! The entire process is indeed a long one, but the rewards far outweigh the work. This is truly a once in a lifetime experience, and would highly recommend it to everyone! Best of luck!
Diana Williams is in her tenth year as Director of Marching Bands at Webb City R-7 Schools. Mrs. Williams is also Director of Bands at the junior high. Diana directs the Wind Ensemble, Concert Band, “A” Jazz Band, and assists two other band classes. In addition to her duties at the junior high, she sponsors the Webb City High School Winter Guard, supervises the Band Council, and teaches all of the woodwind classes at the middle school level. Mrs. Williams received a Bachelor in Music Education (1992) from Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, Kansas, and a Masters Degree in Secondary School Administration (2003) from Southwest Missouri State University.
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