Marching Down Main Street USA
Because we Chose To, Wanted To and Loved To!
May 5, 2017
submitted by Gerry Bastien, Music Director, Hudson District
Spring school vacation found 196 students and 22 chaperones traveling to Disney World in Orlando, Fla. This venture began with a letter to Dr. Phyllis Schlichter, Interim Superintendent, requesting her permission and Hudson’s School Board approval on behalf of the Alvirne High School Bronco Marching Band and Colorguard as well as the Treble Choir, B Naturals and Jazz Band to perform and participate not only in marching “Main Street USA” but also to attend instrumental/choral clinics at Disney Magic Music Days, April 23-28 … and so the process was set in motion on July 5, 2016.
Fundraising projects were organized and monthly scheduled payments were established as this trip had an all-inclusive price tag of $1,550. The cost included round-trip flight, bus transportation and transfers, a three-day “hopper pass” (Magic Kingdom, Epcot and MGM), a day at Universal Studios, five nights’ hotel lodging on Disney property, Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament, dinner at Epcot with fireworks and a Cirque de Soleil performance as well as glow bowling and pizza!
Students also participated in a couple of instrumental/choral clinics. The “You’re Instrumental” clinic took concert bands into a recording studio and gave them the unique chance to record their own soundtrack to a portion of a Disney animated feature. “Frozen” was this year’s feature. The “Disney Sings” clinic focused on singing styles, interpretation and vocal dynamics. A Disney vocalist and recording artist also demonstrated how movement can affect song and ways vocal warm-ups enhance performance. The animated feature for choir was “Tangled” which included “Now That I See You” and” I Had a Dream.”
On Thursday, April 27, the Alvirne High School Bronco Marching Band and Colorguard marched down “Main Street USA.” This marked the fifth time that Alvirne Music was represented at the Magic Kingdom and it was a great anniversary gift to my wife Dee.
If anyone is interested in seeing more pictures and videos of this “Magical” event, visit ahsmusic.org or “Like” the Alvirne High School Friends of Music Facebook page as well as the HLN Facebook page. Special thanks to Chris and Nancy Landry from CSL Tours for an outstanding and memorable trip and for being more than just FOM members. To all the chaperones for being the support system so that our music students could have lasting memories in a very Magical place – Thank you.
On a final note (no pun intended), I will be retiring after 34 years in music education of which 21 have been spent as the District Director of Music for the Hudson School District and Director of Bands at Alvirne High School. I will never forget when I went for my initial interview with Larry Burton, then assistant superintendent, and he asked me “Can you give us a marching band?” Coming from Londonderry I knew what it entailed (especially financially). I asked “Does the town want one?” and he assured me that Hudson was ready. Not really!
Go back to the archives of the HLN letters to the editor, “When does no mean no” articles, etc.
Eventually, with help from members of the community who supported the idea of a marching band and the Alvirne Trustees – the Alvirne High School Marching Band and Colorguard became reality. Also a group of supportive parents was established. We call this group Friends of Music. This group of parents has truly supported my mantra “Choose To,” “Want To” and “Love To” for the past 20 years and it all began with $2 to open up a checking account under Friends of Music.
During my tenure the concert and symphonic bands have traveled to competitive music festivals in New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, New York City, Quebec City and Toronto receiving “superior” ratings as well as individual student musician accolades. The Alvirne Jazz Band has traveled internationally to perform in exchange programs to Munich, Germany, and Salzburg, Austria, not once, twice, but four times! Cabaret weekends (this year was number 20) have entertained over 25,000 patrons! I even conducted the Boston Pops at Christmas – what a way to culminate my career!
My life as the band director at Alvirne came to “full circle” while we were down in Disney. I had a chance to catch up with Kurt Schweiss (our first drum major to march Disney) as he was traveling with the Timberlane High School Band and Jess Magnuson (our first drum line captain to march Disney). Jess was also helping his dad Russ (who has driven our equipment truck down to Orlando along with his wife Deb, all five times).
Alvirne High School Music has been my life for the past 21 years. That being said, I could not have had the success, professional and personal opportunities if it weren’t for the unconditional love and support from the First Lady of Alvirne Music my wife Dee Bastien. Dee and I don’t know what retirement is going to bring but we do know that Shelby, Catherin, Adelaide and Elenore will not have to share pépère and mémère anymore!