Monday, November 25, 2013

You Have Arrived

So, here we are.  It’s 2:30 on a Monday.  I know exactly where I would rather be.

There is a poem I love by a famous Buddhist monk.  To me, it portrays the feeling of being grounded, truly comfortable with yourself, in the now. 

I have arrived. I am home.
In the here. In the now.
I am solid. I am free.
In the ultimate I dwell.
- Thich Nhat Hanh

I think of this poem when I think of this season.  When you know something so well, when you are truly no longer thinking, your body reacts to its surroundings, almost like it’s in auto drive.  You are truly calm, relaxed, and able to be at peace with yourself, even while doing something highly technical and physically demanding.  You reached that point in your show performance this year, where mind and body meld, and both work together, without thought, and you perform with the utmost in confidence and compose.

This past weekend was quite the whirlwind.  I can’t express in words just how proud I am of the STHS Marching Band.  Breaking school records for highest score several times, finally making it into WBA Finals for the 1st time ever, and being truly in the mix and competitive with the best of the best in 4A all year.  At Prelims on Saturday, you beat Oak Grove and Granite Bay in Music.  Did you know that?  You beat Clovis in Visual.  Did you know that?  You beat Oak Grove and Clovis in General Effect.  Did you know that?  You are in the mix, and in some spots beating, the elite 4A bands in the state of California.  The best of the best now includes Santa Teresa High School.  I never thought I would be able to say that.  But here you are! 

You have arrived!

I pushed you all so hard throughout the season.  I demanded more from you than ever before, and pushed you harder and harder each rehearsal.  Some days, I literally worked you into the ground.  Literally.  I yelled and I screamed.  I may or may not have even thrown things.  You could have pushed back, you could have rolled over and given up, you could have gone home.  But you didn’t.  You fought through it and forced more from yourselves and each other.  And in the end, that’s how you got to where you are now.  By demanding more from yourself, by forcing a higher level of performance. 

And now, after all these years of working towards it, after all the years of heartbreak and tears, you finally know what it feels like to be able to hang with the best of the best.  You finally know what it’s like to be a member of that elite Top 5 at Finals.  Do you like it?  Do you want more?  You got here, now do you want to stay here?

You see, I’m not just the Brass Caption Head.  I’m also an Alumni.  Class of 1995.  So you can add 4 years, plus 1 more as a staff member the year after I graduated, to the 11 years I have been on staff under Ms. Bounds.  That means I have 16 years invested in this program.  I know exactly where we are coming from and just what our roots are.  The marching band season of 1991, my freshman year, was the first year of the return of the Santa Teresa marching band field show program.  We didn’t compete that first year, as none of us had a clue what we were doing.  A whole band entirely of rookies, imagine that.  In the years following, we competed here and there, had some successes, and had a great time.

And I remember back then watching schools like Oak Grove, Clovis, and Granite Bay, and thinking that they were unbeatable.  At another level.  I would watch them perform with my jaw dropped.  And to know now that you are competing right up with them…  I’m still speechless. 

You have arrived.

I have heard so many comments and compliments about your show this year.  STHS Alumni are loud and proud of you right now.  Former members from the last 11 years, to all the way back to my era, over 20 years ago.  They loved the show, they have been following you all year.  Never forget, their hard work to continually improve every year is a very big part of your success.  This hasn’t been a one year journey, or even a four year journey.  This journey spans decades.  And it is not done.

You have also gotten many comments and compliments from folks outside this program.   At a Fremont High School rehearsal a few weeks ago the tuba soloist added robot moves while he rested between phrases.  He wanted to be like The Machine.  True story.  And hearing the chatter in the stands is amazing.  Parents of other schools love your show.  You continually got the best response both during and after your performances.  You got many compliments and well wishes from the parents, alumni, and fans from other schools as well.  Even parents from competing schools, including the Granite Bay parents, loved your show.  Members of other schools would run back to the back stands to be able to catch your performance when they see the fog pillars rolling out.  “It’s the smokestack school!  Run, we have to catch them!”  That is the ultimate compliment. 

They know you’ve arrived.

Even staff members of other schools are in on it.  I can’t count the number of times I have run into friends on staff at other schools at shows, and they stop me to tell me that they caught your show.  Every time they loved it, thought it was amazing.  Bands and staff members waiting on the ramp or in the end zone to go on after us were amazed.  At one show, right when the smokestacks go off after the drum break, one staff member from the waiting school threw his hands in the air and said, “Ah crap, they just won.”

This season has been a dream, it has been my pleasure to work with you.  I will miss it.  Life goes on, time moves forward, and next Band Camp is only months away.  The journey continues, some folks are moving on to bigger and better things, some get to go through the same journey again next year. 

But there will never be another 2013 Santa Teresa High School Marching Band. 

Seniors, you were an absolute dream to work with.  You absorbed everything I threw at you, you raised the performance level beyond my expectations again and again.  You will always be the senior class that broke through, the class that played on Sunday for the first time.  I wish I could have put that into words this past weekend, but I simply could not speak.  Congratulations.

Returning members:  Get ready now.  Next year I want top 5, to be right in the mix and competitive with Oak Grove, Clovis, and Granite Bay.  The better you can get now, the more you can help the incoming freshmen next year.  Which is, of course, what really makes a band as good as they are.  Band members helping and teaching other band members.  Internal improvement.  Get on it!

Thank you all so much for an absolutely incredible season.  I can’t express in words just how proud I am of every one of you.  You saw me try on Saturday, and again and Sunday. 

Speechless.  Tears.  Happiness. 

You Have Arrived.

- Erik Dabel
STHS Marching Band Member 91-94
STHS Class of 95
STHS Marching Band Staff 95
STHS Marching Band Brass Caption Head 03-13

p.s. And brass, you owe me 440 seconds of banana.  Get that too me when you can.  

p.p.s. Thanks for Matt Vaughan and Lisa Thornburg for these wonderful pictures, and to the rest of the parents, family, friends and acquaintances that helped make this season into what it was!


mreinders said...


Thank You, for your passion for our kids, your patience, professionalism and class. It has been an honor and a privilege following you around with our kids these past four seasons. As "Low Brass parents" we thank you for all you have taught our son!


Marty & Prina Reinders

mreinders said...
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