Elizabeth (Beth) Witsken, Kansas State University -2018, Former member KSU-Marching Band, current design architect (Provided)
I wanted to put this out there for those of you who are worried, nervous, distraught even, about there not being a 2020 marching season.
Let me take you back to spring of 2015, it’s my second spring semester of college where I have spent the last two amazing years marching in the KSUMB (Kansas State University Marching Band). At this point I was fully dedicated to the band and very excited I had been voted a candidate for one of the section leader positions for next fall. I was living my happy band off-season life, when it’s time to go see my counselor to set up classes for the fall semester. To make a long and complicated story short, because I was studying architecture, there were a series of structural courses I was required to take the following year. These classes were only available in one time slot (Tu-Thurs 3:30 -5:30)… which happened to be exactly when band rehearsal was. I fought and debated back-and-forth with my counselor that day saying things like: “Do you think that Prof. W would move his class time?” “Is there any way to take this later in the year??” There was 100%, absolutely, no way I was going to graduate on time If I did not take that course that exact semester, at that exact time.
I was crushed.
One moment I am flying high prepping for my section leader interview and imagining myself leading my section mates that coming summer, and the next moment, I’m not in the band anymore. I cried my eyes out in the hallway outside my next class, I called my mom, my whole life seemed to have been flip-flopped in the span of 20 mins. Sound familiar?
Elizabeth Witsken – center in focus – played piccolo and marched with the Kansas State University Marching Band (Provided)
I’ll never know how hard it was for you guys, the WGI groups, DCI corps, and bands that had to cancel everything in the span of a few days. I have felt that feeling of gut-dropping, painful, disappointment, and it’s tough. Moving forward, there is no guarantee there will be a fall 2020 marching season. I hope and pray there is, but we just do not know.
So, I wanted to reach out with this wisdom of someone who has been there. Here are a few things I wanted to share with you:
First, the feeling you have when you get back to your band, when you sit back down in that practice chair again, when you hear that sound of a full band again, is worth all the pain of waiting and hoping. If I was a Harry Potter character and could cast a “Patronus”, the happy memory I would draw upon would be when I sat back down on the first day of band camp 2016, and just took in that first rehearsal note . . . I mean wow! What a feeling. Not to mention the first step of pregame in my uniform, hearing the stadium cheer and clap along to the Wabash Cannonball. It was incredible and it will be just as incredible for you.
The Second thing I’d like to say is, nothing can stop you from continuing to be immersed in your band family, in the band community, and practicing your instrument. Even as an Alumni of a few years now, I still play my instrument, watch video recordings of shows past, listen to DCI tracks while I work out, watch band specific YouTube videos, and participate in my university’s Alumni band. This is only the end of your band journey if you chose to make it the end. The band community will always be here, and we’re just as weird as we always were.
Finally, this year is probably going to continue to be hard. Please, please, please keep fighting, pushing onward digitally, creating hilarious band videos from your living room, and generally persevering. When band IS back, and it WILL be, we are going to need you back out on that field blowing the brass doot doot, thwacking the bass twomp, and squeaking that squeaker. I am so excited to see you all out there! (and don’t forget to practice!!)
Elizabeth (Beth) Witsken currently resides in Denver, Colorado is a W. Lee Rhoad AIA Architect and works with Hollis + Miller Architects. She is a 2018 Graduate of Kansas State University where she marched with the K-State University Marching Band