On the horizon...
On Monday, January 4, 2021 the members of Wake and District gathered virtually as we held our annual general meeting looking back at 2020 while planning "as if" for 2021 and beyond. Almost 70 members were in attendance, A summary of the band board's presentation can be seen below.
Elections were held for open positions including Band Manager, Assistant Band Manager and Treasurer. These positions were unopposed, and the band is happy to announce Joe Brady will continue to serve as band manager, Lindsey Kosydar as assistant band manager, John Schodtler as treasurer, Caren Smith as secretary and Jean Farrell as member at large.
A 2020 retrospect was reviewed from the perspective of Dalton Marshall. (give it a read here). Show up, stand here, know the music, wear the right socks. In a year where this is not possible, it has shown through that the choice of being committed, of being a band, is a frame of mind, unaltered by any outside force.
Some 2020 highlights included:
An amazing ramp up towards St. Patrick's Day and the competition season
Strong representation from our pipers at the Cary Indoor solo competition
The honors funeral for Trooper Nolan Sanders of the NCSHP
Providing a Gift of Grace at funerals
Learning to use Zoom
The loss of Anita Armstrong
The beginning of the Ancient Order of Hibernian, An Gorta Mór Memorial Pipe Band
Michael Iannuzzi, Andrew Kerr, and Kenny Hiner chairing the SoBra of the EUSPBA
Practices in the Park and finding kittens
Drive by mini-bands to spread some cheer to family and friends
The wedding of Jake and Chelsea Egen
The honors funeral for Deputy Chief Jason Dean of the Clayton Fire Department
Virtual mini-band contest
Virtual solo contests and upgrades for a few members
Finally receiving our British Drum Company Axial drums
The Little Drummer Boy going viral
Our members of the year were announced in December and included:
Piper of the year, in memory of John Ruman
Drummer of the year, in memory of Raymond Busse
Band member of the year, ZOOM -- for keep us together through the chaos
2020 was not easy. Most of us demonstrated grit, standing together in person and online. Some have gone into hibernation, and some have folded altogether. Now is the time to get back on board, grab on with both hands or get out of the way.
Finances were reviewed. The band recognized $14,201.47 in revenue (63% decrease YoY). Here are a few ways these funds were invested into the band:
Chanter and drone reeds
new 24" bass drum for our little drummer boy
St. Patrick's Day swag
New bag covers and drone cords
Cold weather gear (hats and jackets)
Our conversation switched over to a discussion about membership -- highlighting a 22% growth year over year with kilted members. We are now at 81 -- with a handful of pipe and snare students in the wings. Many of these members received kilts in January in preparation to march in their first gig, the Raleigh St. Patrick's Day parade.
We recognized members with service marks for 10 years and 5 years with the band.
Zoom was a major part of our rehearsal routine. Despite "can you hear me" -- we consistently had 46% of our members participating in weekly Zoom sessions. While not ideal, Zoom did allow us to keep up socially, keep the tunes going, and learn a few new tunes along the way. Through this virtual portal we all found ourselves in, we have witnessed many fellow bands lose steam.
Some have gone into hibernation, and sadly some have folded all together. Logistics have taken hold of some, but many are victim to a lack of motivation on the calendar, with no competitions, concerts, or anything else concrete with which to apply themselves. This is where we are fortunate to be stuck in the middle of the dichotomy of pipe bands. To service bands, we are a competition band, and to competition bands, we are a service band. Our foundation makes us both. Our mission is of service, and so we compete. Our mission is of competition, so we serve.
A reminder to our members, your band needs you.
Family of Bands. In response to what continues to propagate around us, we determined it would be best to divide the band into smaller units, a family of bands. The Wake family now includes the following groups which will rehearse independently (the "BAND" will rehearse together monthly):
New players, players who are behind on band music, non-competitive players and our G5.
Our G4 group led by Dalton Marshal and Fisher Reese
Our G3 group led by Ken McKeveny and Michael Iannuzzi
In person rehearsals will be conducted bi-monthly, with schedules and locations TBA by NCOs and the Board. Zoom session will continue between in person sessions. Additional Zoom sessions will be conducted to help members get caught up and back in the band groove. Monthly all-call band rehearsals will be scheduled, and members will be required to attend half of these get togethers.
The band also intends to begin a new class of pipers, snares, and tenor drummers which we will start on Zoom.
We had a conversation about uniforms. with a reminder to make sure your uniform fits. In addition to new argyle cuff socks and black flashes, a few changes were implemented for our Class A kit. All of our uniform descriptions can be found at raleighpipeband.com/uniforms
As we look ahead to 2021 and beyond, we felt it was time to invest in replacing some band equipment and gear and are looking at a few things which include:
New band chanters and practice chanters from MacLellan in Q1
Replacement coolers (Pelco coolers with wheels)
Replacement Tents (qty 4, 15x10)
Additional camping chairs
New Band Trailer (8x20)
The band intended to establish a Celtic Cultural Center in the Raleigh region. While we still want to make this happen, we had to scale back a bit and are modifying these plans and partner with a legend. We need a home and intend to make it happen. More to come on this...
In 2020 we laid out musical plans and began updating our repertoire for a book to be distributed last Spring. Things changed and we had to refocus, and we are now reorganizing the music base on our Family of Bands. Several new sets are in the works including a Funeral Dirge set, 2/4 street set, reorganization of the G4 MSR and Medley, a new G4 march to the line tune and an additional G3 MSR (alongside the new G3 Medley constructed during 2020). All of our arrangements (and existing music) will be made available as digital music books, supplemented with practice, and play along composite video recordings.
As we neared the end of the meeting, we discussed what's next, which includes:
15 year anniversary
Virtual contests - solo, quartet, mini-band, street march
RFD Graduation Wednesday
nOg Run Club halfway to St. Patrick’s Day – September 18th
Veterans Day Parade – November 13th
Ohio Quartets Feb 7th
Loch Norman Virtual mid-April
Smoky Mountain May 15-16
Greenville May 29th
Chicago June 19th
ScoCo October 2nd
Stone Mountain October 16th
Joe Brady likes to remind everyone these three things we need to remain aware of:
Don't Fall down; while literally not falling down is a very real thing...focus on being at rehearsals and events on time, in the correct uniform, with an instrument ready, knowing all the music front to back and ready to make it happen. If we miss any of these things and we show up late or don't show up, have the wrong uniform parts on, a drone double tones, we make note mistakes, have trailing drones -- we fall.
Stay In Step: Not only stay in step while in formation and marching down the street but stay in step with the organization. Be responsive to polls, events, and practicing. Don't disappear without communicating. Learn the music before the deadlines. Stay in step with the organization and don't fall behind. Recognize getting out or taking a break if you find yourself out of step.
Have Fun: If we're successful in not falling - staying in lock step with one another and we're making music -- we can all raise our cups and the fun follows.
While For Our Fallen remains as our banner, our mission was reiterated a little differently this year:
To service bands, we are a competition band, and to competition bands, we are a service band. Our foundation makes us both. Our mission is of service, and so we compete. Our mission is of competition, so we serve.
Our 2020 AGM closed with these words from Lloyd Johnson: "With everything going so well in so many ways, it would be all too easy to sit back and rest on the laurels of our accomplishments. If we weren’t careful, we could even fall victim to taking the whole thing for granted."
Through the chaos of what was 2020, the band remained a constant on the horizon. So many members leaned forward navigating a constant change. From founding members, to the newly kilted, some fell victim... We were all distracted from:
Job loss, to retirement, to new jobs…
Homeschool and no schooling…
The loss of a pet or finding a new kitten…
selling a house, buying one or building one…
Being bored and binging Netflix…
contracting Covid or losing a loved one to it…
seeing only darkness, not the light on the horizon…
These aren’t excuses, they’re reality.
So here we are. Competition or not. Parades or not. Pub gigs or not. Festivities or not. Ask yourself - am I in the band and am I band ready?
There it is. A year embracing the suck. Some new faces, a pandemic, constant change, challenging goals, and more music. Thank you to our band members who leaned in through darkness toward the horizon.
Note: The banner artwork is from Bond Brothers Beer Company in Cary, NC. It is the graphic for the Duality of Funk Brett IPA. They first brewed this funky, yet tropical Brett IPA over three years ago, which also happened to be the first beer they ever bottled at Bond. They are excited to release this second generation. Order online for curbside or local delivery @ https://www.bondbrothersbeer.com/pickup-delivery-mailorder-menu/desert-funk-65 We simply love the graphic because it reflects our kilt colors. The beer, by the by -- is AMAZING.