Doane SWE in DC: A life-changing decision
When I was a senior in high school back in Washington, I vividly remember a dinner with my dad.
We were eating and he kept telling me how great he thought Doane University (one of the schools I was considering) was.
For the most part, I ignored everything coming out of his mouth, much like a stereotypical teenager. Then the phone rang.
It was Dr. Jay W. Gilbert calling from little ol’ Crete, Nebraska.
That conversation went on for about a half an hour with him explaining all of the opportunities Doane would provide for me during the next four years with music trips to Chicago, Denver and—now—Washington D.C.
Chance Busey ’16 (far right) stands with fellow members of Doane’s Symphonic Wind Ensemble and a Doane flag on the U.S. Capitol lawn.
As luck would have it, It ended with my commitment to join his band in the Middle of Nowhere, Nebraska. I had no idea, but I had just made the best decision of my life.
In the last few days, I’ve felt quite nostalgic, listening to recordings of the last three years of Doane’s band. Each year was a different group, not only because of sound, but because of people; because of relationships.
Each recording I listened to was marvelous, not just for the sound, but because it made me reminisce about the friendships I made during those years. Some of those people are now only Facebook acquaintances, but it has been amazing to see what they are up to, not even four years after graduating. It’s truly inspiring what some of these Doane grads are doing, several of them in other countries making a difference teaching music.
Performance highlights over the last three years include playing at the Lied Center for the Nebraska Music Educators Association convention, playing two concerts a day on tours to and from Denver and Chicago and now performing at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. with the Symphonic Wind Ensemble.
Over the last four years, I have performed 66 concerts with SWE alone—and that doesn’t include jazz band or the trip to D.C. my freshman year. I have also had the privilege of learning from some of the best conductors in the country, including maestro Ed Polochick, Dr. Frank Tracz and, soon, Col. Arnald Gabriel.
And Dr. Gilbert is someone I’ve grown to look up to as well. He’s always carrying a contagious smile. He’s quirky, fun and sporadic at times, but always caring about your growth as a student and as a person—and willing to bend over backwards to help you succeed.
I can’t help but be excited for the underclassmen who not only get to experience performing in the Kennedy Center, but get a few more precious years with the Doane’s Symphonic Wind Ensemble and Dr. Gilbert.
This band, this family and this experience are things I will cherish for the rest of my life.