The Best Days of His High School Years Are Happening Right Now

(Alternatively titled: Our Second Band of America Trip)

Busy weekend …

Friday, I dropped the boys off at school like normal. Only Jazz wasn’t scheduled to attend any classes, he went straight to band, who went straight out to the football field to practice their routine. At 9:00, they loaded the buses for St. Louis.

Kevin and I ran a few errands and then picked Dude up from school at 11:00. We ate lunch at Wendy’s, grabbed a few Pumpkin Spice Lattes from Starbucks and headed out to St. Louis.

To my surprise, we caught up to the band (they ride four huge green buses – they are very hard to miss) and before long, we were playing cat and mouse, passing, being passed.

We ran into some construction and traffic came to a standstill. Luckily, the road crews opened up the lanes and we got going again after about ten minutes.

(Jazz said he never saw us, which is weird because I waved like a crazed lunatic when we passed all four buses … perhaps he saw me but couldn’t push past his band mates in order to wave back … surely he wasn’t embarrassed of me?? … Nahhh).

We made it to St. Louis at 2:30 and proceeded to check into our hotel, which was the Drury Inn right next door to the Edwards’ Dome (where the St. Louis Rams play and this hotel? I HIGHLY RECOMMEND BECAUSE OMG, IT IS SO AWESOME!)

We were assigned room 604 – I’m recording the room number because we are totally going to ask for this specific room next year, too. It was a suite complete with a sitting room and a separate room for the bedroom. That meant that Dude could sleep on the pull-out sofa and watch TV without disturbing us in the next room.

It was awesome. Dude quite liked it, too. We were also positioned so that we could look out of our window and watch all of the bands walking into the dome – another plus!

After we got settled in our room, we walked to the dome (it’s next door, remember?? SOOOOO convenient!) and settled in to watch the bands leading up to our kids’ performance.


And they performed. It was really spectacular and I was so proud (I yelled so loudly my voice was hoarse afterward and in fact, I was so animated with, erhm, my enthusiasm that I embarrassed Dude. BONUS!)

Still. I was concerned. Competition at this level, the Super Regional level, is FIERCE. As in INSANE. The shows … they are simply breath taking. The PROPS, the DANCERS, the MUSIC … it’s all quite overwhelming and I love every minute of it. Though we had a good show, I wondered if it would be good ENOUGH.

Our kids were the third to last band to play that Friday, so after prelims were over that day, we walked (I mentioned the location of this hotel is AWESOME, right?? Just checking) back to our hotel. Drury served a hot FREE dinner that we took advantage of earlier, so we grabbed a few snacks out of the vending machine and settled in for the night.

Dude out lasted us. Kevin and I zonked out around 10:00, I think Dude might have gone to bed at midnight – maybe even later.

The next morning, we got up, ate our FREE hot breakfast (yes, I am a fan of Drury Inns – bite me), and we headed home. Even though we had to pay more for the suite, it actually worked out beautifully because we were not only next door to the Dome, we didn’t have to buy dinner OR breakfast so … yeah. AWESOME.

Bands were scheduled to play all day Saturday. The last band played at 3:30, then finals would be announced at 4:00. If our kids made it, they would perform, if not, they would come home.

Jazz’s band checked out of their hotel at 10ish.

(Side Note: Jazz and his roommates left the cleaning crew a tip. They didn’t have to, and no one asked them to, they just felt like it was the right thing to do. Jazz did this last year, too. It just warms my heart that he’s such a generous, thoughtful young man. It tells me that we must be doing something right).

They went to a mall, hung out, had lunch, then went to the St. Louis zoo, in essence, to kill time before they announced the finalists.

Since we had come home, I had no idea what was going on. I kept watching the clock, wondering …. wondering ….

I kept checking the band website. The band director is on Twitter and has a Facebook page, which is great, but he doesn’t update very often, so it’s a bit maddening. And to top it off, his Facebook page is private so I only see what’s going on by the summary of his status via his Facebook web badge.

The time to find out the finalists arrived. The band director’s status started naming off names … but it cut off so I had no idea if our kids made it or not.

I tried to hack into Jazz’s Facebook account (because he’s friends with the band director), but I couldn’t figure his password out.


Then, THEN, the band director updated his FB status again.

“We perform at 9:30.”

Wait. WHAT?? Did that mean our kids made finals?!?!?!

Then, Jazz must have gotten a hold of his phone because he text me, “FINALS!”

Our kids made finals!!!! At Bands of America!!!! Out of 48 bands, our kids were one of the 14 bands going on to finals!!!

I nearly passed out from the excitement. (Yes, I get THAT into it. Bite me).

I haven’t been able to verify this, but I think this is the first time our kids have made finals at Bands of America. This was their seventh year participating … lucky number seven!

So, our kids had to put their uniforms back on and prepare to play for the final time at 9:30.

I went to the Bands of America website and noticed that you had the option of paying to watch the finals via web stream.

So, of course we paid the fee and settled back to watch the final 14 bands perform.

We called my in-laws and they came over to watch the kids perform.

When it was time for our kids to play, I was a nervous wreck. I’m pretty sure I didn’t breathe the entire time they were on the field.

They played and … I was disappointed. Something felt off. They didn’t gel as well as they had earlier.

I had a bad feeling.

Finally, FINALLY, the last band performed and it was time to assign awards.

Beginning at number 14 … I started praying, “Anything but last place, anything but last place …”

The band ended up placing 11th. Which was a disappointment but not surprising. They were sluggish and their formations were a little sloppy. I found out from Jazz today that they had scored a 78.00 at prelims, and only a 72.00 at finals. If they had scored as well at finals as they had at prelims, they would have placed 5th.

I was (and still am) a little sick about that, but of course, I didn’t tell Jazz that.

But I have to be fair. Our kids HAD to have been EXHAUSTED. They had been going, non-stop, since Friday morning and I’m sure none of the kids got very much sleep Friday night. Then they went to the mall AND the zoo Saturday and then performed again Saturday night… it’s sort of surprising none of them tripped from exhaustion.

(Side Note: Jazz said that he thinks a lot of the band sort of gave up. They were satisfied with making finals and really didn’t make much of an effort from that point on. He was disappointed by that attitude because he’s into it even more than I am – obviously).

At any rate, though it was a little disappointing, the fact that they made finals at all was quite impressive. We’re all very proud of them.

So, the band has one more competition back in St. Louis this weekend and then the season wraps up. Jazz said he expects they will have some pretty intense rehearsals this week as they are all determined to end the season with one last win.

I’d like to go this weekend, but I’m not sure it’s going to happen. Dude is burned out on the whole band thing and Kevin has a gig so he can’t go. And I’m not sure I really want to go by myself. I’m trying to talk my mom into going, but she has to try and get someone to work for her and I have yet to hear back whether she was successful or not.

I try so hard not to get SO into band season but dang it, this stuff is FUN to watch and I KNOW how hard our kids work to pull off these amazing shows.

I hate to admit it, but I think I’m living vicariously through Jazz. I know he’s making some pretty awesome memories and I’m a little jealous, I think. It reminds me of my junior and senior year in high school when I was in drama and we took our one-act play all the way to state and WON it. It’s a memory I will always treasure.

These band experiences will likely be some of Jazz’s best high school memories as well.