Dealing with key changes

Benjamin Boersma—Staff Writer 

It’s that time where students fill out evaluations again. I ought to know; I finished filling mine out last week. Normally, it’s not a big deal, and, for the first three that I filled out, it wasn’t. 

I saved my band evaluation for last, figuring it would be a good one to end on. 

Don’t get me wrong: I love playing in the band. We have a fantastic music staff that brings out the best in their musicians. But about halfway through my band evaluation, I realized that this one wasn’t the same as all the others. 

“Dr. Miedema did this part of the program a little differently,” I thought. Then it hit: As objective as I was trying to be, I had started comparing this semester’s experience to the other four semesters of my college band career. 

It’s hard not to compare. Dr. Miedema faithfully directed the Concert Band and the Campus-Community Band for 10 years. He took the band on tour, not just across the country, but across the globe, as well. Our tour last summer to Europe will easily be the highlight of my time as a college musician. 

The music was hard, but fun. It included a wide mix of classic pieces, such as Berlioz’ “Hungarian March” (which received consistent standing ovations on tour last year), and more current pieces, such as Johnnie Vinson’s “Variants of a Shaped Note Tune” (my favorite from the band festival my freshman year). He had a sense of humor: You could tell when you messed up, but he was gracious enough that you could laugh along with the other band members. We had to work hard in rehearsal, but we had fun doing so. 

At the same time, I know that each year has been different. My freshman year, I played under Dr. Miedema’s leadership in the Campus-Community Band. I was taking almost 19 credits; I barely knew anyone in the music department; I was a third trombonist; I had no clue what it was like to be a college student. I simply wanted to keep making music. 

My sophomore year, I made it into the Concert Band. I was taking 14 credits and had added other activities to my schedule. I was a second trombonist who was already excited for the Europe tour even though it was nine months away. I wasn’t disappointed. 

This year, I auditioned again for Concert Band. I didn’t make it, so I am once again playing in the Campus-Community band. I am currently playing first trombone and sitting next to the section leader. Together, it’s our job to tune the entire section, making sure we all start playing at the right time and place, and helping the others in our section with tough spots in the music. But the biggest difference is that we have a new director. 

I know I’m comparing again. It’s hard not to. Each group is different, and each director is different. Is it fair? No, but it’s what happens when there are differences. It’s how we make sense of change. 

Dr. Miedema held a place of leadership. The things he did, both good and bad, will leave a lasting effect on all who knew him. For 10 years, he was our band director, and he was respected as a good director. At the same time, people in leadership are held to a higher standard. They have to be. If they fall, everyone feels the impact. The Board of Trustees enforced that standard, as difficult as it may have been to do so. 

Since high school, I have studied under a total of five different band directors. Each one was different. They brought different things to the group and out of the group. Many of us will miss Dr. Miedema for what he brought to the Dordt bands and for what he brought out of us. As for me, whether I am bottom chair or the section leader, I will stand by whoever leads the ensemble I am in. I look forward to a new semester with new experiences as a band member, whatever that may look like. 

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