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Some Great Parting Words

2013-14 Mercer Island High School Band President and Drum Major, Mary Wingerson gave a crowd-pleasing speech at the MIHS Band Awards Night. Definitely worth sharing:


I’d like to start by saying thank you.  Thank you so much to the band directors for building this program fueled solely by caffeine and tortilla chips.  Thanks to the band boosters for donating tons of time and energy to improve our experience.  Thanks to all the parents for supporting us, whether through chauffeuring, investing in lessons, or forcing your child to enroll in band.  In any case, I’m glad that all of you supported your kids in being involved in the program.

I think it’s an unwritten rule that if you’re worried about being interesting in a speech, you should quote someone more interesting than you.  So I thought to myself, Mr. Bixby is one of the most interesting people out there—I will shamelessly ride on his coattails of rhetorical mastery and explain some of his best remarks that were posted on the Bixby’s Best Quotes Facebook page this school year.  Considering how much unsolicited advice I’ve doled out this year, I thought I should broadcast the advice of someone a few years older and much wiser.

When I think of band, I think of two things, music and community.  Mr. Bixby summed this up during rehearsal for a concert this winter when he said, “If we play that right, someone might have a baby…and it might be me.”  What I think Mr. Bixby meant was that making music transcends a lot of barriers, just maybe not anatomical.  Our experiences in marching and concert band transcend cliques and grades.  At the least, it’s because we can all talk about band, which, according to my non band friends, we do all the time without realizing it.  But we also all know what it feels like to get that wave of adrenaline after a football game, what it feels like to be on a team of 300-odd people, and what it feels like to stand at attention for minutes in the summer heat.

This brings me to something Mr. Bixby said at band camp last August, “If you faint, you’re wasting my time.”  We all learn that there’s one option in this program: to contribute.  No one fainted, if I remember correctly.  Throughout the year, I saw amazing contributions to the program.  Some section leaders ran three sectionals a week, 30 of us who are very enthusiastic about animal band made a pep band and played at extra basketball games, and everyone contributed to a high energy, impromptu performance at Parliament after some unanticipated road blocks.  I’ll keep this light, but I think it’s incredible that there is a place in this program for anyone who wants to contribute.

I plan to frame a certain quote under a picture of the band for my dorm room wall, because I know I can count on your faces and Mr. Bixby’s words to get me out of bed when no one is making me go to class.  I like the idea of waking up to Mr. Bixby’s words, “We can either make excuses or kick ass.  Let’s do the latter.”


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