My friends, it felt like this moment would never arrive, but marching bands are back on the streets again.

It has been an amazing week.  The past seven days have seen the members of “The HERD” grow from a band of individuals to an ensemble of excellence.  The rigors of Sweat Camp help to craft a sense of pride that was evident in both the Parent Preview Performance and the Buffalo Days Parade.  The level of effort and commitment to both precision and artistry was simply tremendous. 

As the band proceeded down the street last night I felt an incredible upwelling of emotion.  The kids put a lump in my throat and kept it there for a half hour. The performance level of the kids combined with the sense of community coming from the crowd just hit me right in the heart.  The communities of BHM are back.  We have weathered the storm of the pandemic and are moving forward with our eyes on the future.

And, did I mention, The Band Aides and Vision Transportation Bus Drivers were absolutely incredible.  What a marvelous team.  Thanks for all you do to get these kids down the street.

Results of the judging from Saturday night have not been received yet, but the judges verbal comments are already in hand.  There are lots of compliments as well as some useful suggestions. (eg. Apparently, we are ALL supposed to be marching with a roll step…who knew?).  We know what we have to do to get to the next level.  What was acceptable on Saturday will no longer be acceptable on Wednesday.

Congratulations to the four winners of “The Golden Dinkle”.  Friday’s recipients were Abby Bertsch from the flute section and Jack Hintz of the Honor Guard.  On Saturday the winners were Brielle McLearan from the Color Guard and Bari Sax player Michael Richter.

Thank you all for being with me on the incredible ride.

Lake City

I cannot say enough good things about our experiences at Lake City today. What an amazing celebration of the marching arts. From the “sharing” in the line-up area by the four bands participating, to the giant selfie, to the tremendous performances by all four groups. I did not say anything to you about the special meaning of today’s parade, but Paul Holland, a great friend, fan of “The HERD”, and long time band director at Lake City, died of cancer in the spring of 2020. Today was a day filled with poignancy for his family (daughter in the Color Guard) and the community. Paul was a truly great man and his influence on his students, his colleagues, and the town of Lake City will ripple for generations. He was never far from my thoughts throughout the day.

As for performances by “The HERD”, from your first note on the school song I knew it was going to be one of those special days. And, I was right. And, the judges agreed. You achieved a Superior Rating in every single sub-caption. Simply astounding, and well earned. The overall score was the highest the band has ever received in the month of June. Today was a gratifying way to end our competitive season. WELL DONE!

Congratulations to the winners of “The Golden Dinkle Award” for outstanding visual performances: Joe Durben-Tenor Drums and Sydney Rhodes-Alto Sax. They both pretty much “demanded” the award today.

Enjoy the next few weeks. be sure to be practicing and keep the show in your feet. I will see you all again on Saturday, August 7 when you “throw down” for your home town fans in Hanover.

Sauk Rapids

What can I say. “Greatness – Everyday”. This is the way we teach BHS students to approach their learning experiences in the music program. The marching arts are no different. The street is an extension of the classroom, and “The HERD” has taken this motto to heart. Every performance, you get better and better. And…this band solves problems in real time. We had a pulse problem show up out of nowhere in Letter K of Segment 4 tonight. By the third performance, the problem was taken care of…without the need of a director or rehearsal. Simply amazing. This just doesn’t happen. I am so proud of all of you. Again…the scores were really balanced throughout the band, from the Honor Guard through the Drumline. The group cracked the 80 point level tonight and received a Superior Rating.

Congratulations to the winners of “The Golden Dinkle” for Outstanding Visual Performance: Elise Lubben from the trumpet section and trombonist Will Borgerding.

Report time is pretty early on Sunday. See you all at 7:50.

Foley Parade

Hello Friends. It was really gratifying to watch the way the kids rehearsed on Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon and see that they truly understood that what was acceptable on Saturday night would no longer be acceptable today. Endless repetitions to perfect the smallest little blemish. This is how excellence happens. This is the kind of sustained effort that makes band kids so desirable to employers.

The kids were quite convinced that they moved the needle tonight. To be honest, I’ll just never get over my emotional response to last Saturday’s performance at Buffalo Days and that will be my favorite parade for the rest of my life. So…I guess that means that I am no longer a fair judge of the band. We will just have to trust the judges to help us evaluate our progress. All three gave us very high marks…one of our highest scores ever at the Foley Parade. Their recorded critiques are really complimentary, yet give us some learning targets for our next rehearsal. I will share more details about their feedback on Friday.

Congratulations to Maddy Deckert from the Mellophone section and Chase Bye from the drumline. They were tonight’s winners of “The Golden Dinkle” for outstanding visual performance.

Finally, here’s a big shout out to the students and staff of the 728 Cadets from the Elk River/Rogers/Zimmerman School District. They are the first band we’ve seen this summer that has received a Superior Rating (a score of 80 or above). They work really hard at this activity and it shows. We were close to that level tonight, but aren’t there quite yet. We have more work to do.

I’m looking forward to Friday and your Sauk Rapids performance. What will you do in your 3rd performance of the year.

Friday, was another fantastic event, the Sauk Rapids parade, which always brings out our best.  There is something special about that venue; the trees, the curves of the route, the roundabout and the response of the audience.  You were 2nd out of 10 bands (still a click or 2 behind Owatonna).  Your highest rankings were in Music and Marching (1st in each).

We finished a long run of parades yesterday with an exhibition performance at Glencoe.  And, this non-judged event may have been the most rewarding experience we’ve had in years.  Marching and playing for the audience without any care about a judging stand felt like a true blessing.  The crowd response was fantastic, the “purple wave” of HERD fans was evident throughout the parade, and fans of both the Litchfield and Waconia bands were really supportive and encouraging every time you performed.   The highlight, of course, was sharing our music with the Litchfield band before the parade, performing for the Waconia band at the end of the parade, and supporting the Litchfield group on their last play.  To share this experience with these fierce competitors was a reminder that we are all just “band kids” doing what band kids do.  And, it reminded me of this statement that is included in the “HERD Biography” that is sent in with every parade application: “More than anything, members of “The HERD” are marching band fans that believe that their participation helps to develop essential skills found in well-rounded young adults.” Yesterday was evidence of this philosophy in action.

Congratulations to our most recent Golden Dinkle Winners (recognition of an outstanding visual performance). From Sauk Rapids, it was Dillon Huss of the Drumline.  Anna Ebnet took home the award from Glencoe.

I’ll see you all tomorrow at 2:00 for the Roseville Parade.  This will likely be the toughest lineup of the year, with almost all the top bands in the state participating.


Milaca Summary

Thanks to everybody who was so flexible yesterday.  The rain delay at the high school required an extended time of focused visual rehearsal in the BAC.  The rain on site made things awkward during the pre parade prep.  And, the wetness of everything meant everybody had a lot of work to do once we returned to the high school.  All day long I saw leaders…people doing what needed to be done, when it needed to be done, whether they wanted to do it or not.  Great kids…Great parents…Great band!  What a pleasure it is to be involved in the organization…in this activity!

Last nights performances were exceptional.  The band continues to improve each time out.  With three parades under our belts it feels as if we are beginning to really “perform” rather than just execute.  An example of this is last night’s winner of the Golden Dinkle, Mitchell Rabehl, of the Alto Sax section.

Here is a link to the parade results from Milaca. http://www.minnesotaparadebands.com/2018-Season.html

“The HERD” was 2nd in Class AAA (really 3rd but Waconia won the Grand Championship) and was 5th overall out of 17 high school bands.  Our highest ranking was in Marching, where we were in 2nd place.

High scores have been pretty hard to come by this year, and I like that.  An 80 or higher indicates a “Superior” performance in the eyes of the judges, and I believe that recognition should be very difficult to achieve.  There are 7 or 8 bands that earn multiple scores in the 80’s each year in Minnesota and we have a goal of being one of those bands.  Previous to last night, there were only 3 bands that had received “Superior” ratings: Waconia, Litchfield and Henry Sibley.  Last night, 2 more bands joined that group (Sauk Rapids-Rice and Owatonna) and we are right on the cusp.  Let’s work hard today.  “You didn’t come this far, just to come this far!”

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