Bringing Bands Together

 by Travis J. Cross,  National VPPR, KKΨ |

[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #0099FF;”]P[/dropcap]laying in a college band leaves an indelible imprint on the life of everyone who takes advantage of the opportunity to participate. When  National President Adam Cantley asked me to serve Kappa Kappa Psi as National Vice President of Professional Relations, I welcomed the chance to give back to an organization that plays such an important role in our band program at Virginia Tech. Over the past few months, I have been fortunate enough to see other chapters in action, and each visit reinforces my appreciation for the musicianship, service, and brotherhood that unites and defines our fraternity as a whole.

Just a few weeks ago, I accompanied the Marching Virginians to the 2012 Allstate® Sugar Bowl, where Virginia Tech played the University of Michigan. One of my favorite things about college marching bands is how each school has a different style, approach, and tradition, and I was particularly excited for our wonderful students to share the field with the famed Michigan Marching Band.

After the bands finished rehearsing, we moved to a large lounge for lunch. There were separate serving lines, and each band sat on their own side of the room. But as everybody finished eating, the two bands started to mix and mingle together. I’m especially pleased to report that the brothers of the Nu and Eta Beta chapters led the way, going out to the concourse together to sing the fraternity hymn. Within minutes, Hokies and Wolverines were exchanging stories, playing bizarre group games typical of college marching band students, and, in at least a few sections, teaching and learning the “Hokie Pokie.”

Each band would play and cheer aggressively in support of its own team later that evening, but for about an hour that afternoon, they were brought together by the shared experience of playing an instrument or twirling a flag, learning how to read drill charts, sitting in uniforms that somehow manage to be both too hot in August and too cold in December, and being the first to arrive and last to leave the stadium on most Saturdays in the fall.

Social networks highlighted how the band fraternity extends all over the world, whether specifically in terms of Kappa Kappa Psi, or in a more general sense. I opened Facebook® and posted a photo of both bands eating together, along with a status about the Nu and Eta Beta chapters, and people starting clicking “Like” within seconds: college band directors, high school band directors, Kappa Kappa Psi brothers, band parents, and alumni from all corners of the country. I think the Nu chapter was pleased to hear that the first “Like” came from their chapter sponsor and one of our past national presidents, Dr. Malinda Matney!

These kinds of interactions happened at dozens of bowl games across America, and they remind us of the enormous affinity and affection we have for each other as band members, musicians, conductors, teachers, and students. We are incredibly fortunate as brothers and sisters of Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma to have so many opportunities to come together and share our enthusiasm with each other.

Dr. Debra Traficante, National Vice President for Professional Relations for Tau Beta Sigma, and I look forward to sharing more details about the 2013 National Intercollegiate Band over the coming months, including information about the auditions and updates from our commissioned composer, John Mackey. Both national councils will have more exciting news to share at district conventions as we prepare for Springfield!

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