It’s the Little Things That Count
Music, University Center for the Arts | October 20, 2015
Last month during a mid-week rehearsal, the CSU Marching Band abruptly switched gears, stopping in the middle of learning drill to play the Coast Guard song, “Semper Paratus.” At the time, the reason was only known by Director Dr. Richard Frey who had previously received a special letter from one of the three people watching from outside the practice field fence.
Mary Beth Solano, who wrote the touching note, agreed that Dr. Frey should share her story with the entire band.
Here is Ms. Solano’s original email to Dr. Frey:
Good afternoon! I got home a bit ago from witnessing the most wonderful moments…I brought my 89 year old father who can hardly walk and is suffering from some significant dementia, along with my granddaughter who just started Kindergarten, to watch the marching band practice today. I knew we could only stay a few minutes because he can’t be out in the heat, but in those moments I watched my dad’s face just light up and he started to remember marching band rehearsals he was in decades ago in college at the University of Minnesota. He played tuba back then (even took it up again about 20 years ago for a while) and has always LOVED listening to brass instruments anywhere he can find them, particularly in a good marching band like what we saw today. He became animated and talkative like he hasn’t been for a long while. We heard about the different techniques the director of this band uses compared to the one who led his band and he noticed how straight the trumpet player’s arms were and how in-sync the bells on the sousaphones moved. I haven’t heard him notice details like that in years!! My granddaughter was marching in her own little parade and had all kinds of questions about why and how and who. It was a very special time!!! I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for this afternoon. Your work lit a light in my granddaughter’s heart and relit the light in my father’s eyes and memories.
While sharing this personal note to the entire ensemble, Dr. Frey examined his own thoughts: “I often wonder how what we do, both in band and in our daily lives, has an impact on those around us,” he said. “Learning that Ms. Solano’s father was a Coast Guard veteran from WWII, it was right to honor him that way.”
On Sept. 9, while following up with Ms. Solano for permission to share this story, she relayed, from her perspective, the effect of the “Semper Paratus” moment.
I took dad to practice [again] yesterday and they were practicing their pieces for their military appreciation show. Bless their hearts; they played the coast guard hymn while we were there. He took his hat off, stood a little higher at attention, and cried…so did I. Another incredibly meaningful moment for his soul. With all the health issues he deals with, that is worth more than you will ever know.
“Sometimes what we do is much bigger than just entertaining a crowd,” Frey told the band. “And I’m proud that our band could have such an effect on this family.”