Doane SWE in DC: Setting the stage
During my first visit to Doane, I sat in on a Symphonic Wind Ensemble rehearsal. I remember asking Dr. Jay Gilbert if my dad and I could record Gustav Holst’s Second Suite in F because at the time, I was playing that in high school that year.
Now I know this isn’t something I normally admit publicly, but I’ve never felt the need to practice for hours on end to get a part performance-ready. Being the second alto saxophone in SWE, the music really isn’t that hard, especially when we play songs that I played in high school.
The difference between a good high school band and Doane’s SWE is not the level of music we play—it's the level at which we play it.
I noticed it at my very first rehearsal as a freshman, hearing how good everyone sounded and how well they could sight read compared to my high school band.
Yes, hitting those technically demanding runs in high school was a great feeling, but not everyone did it with the best tone. That was (and still is) the biggest difference moving from a high school band to college: the maturity of each musician’s sound.
With each clinician that came in to help SWE this semester, the band “leveled up” significantly. The levels may not be the most noticeable to the average ear, but to even a relatively trained ear, the smallest adjustment can make the biggest difference.
Yesterday, during our clinic with Col. Arnald Gabriel—conductor emeritus of the U.S. Air Force Band—SWE took another step up and I could not have been closer to tears. This man is absolutely amazing.
Doane SWE poses with Col. Arnald Gabriel in Washington D.C.
He’s a hero who fought on the beaches of Normandy in World War II, conducted Air Force bands and has met some of the biggest names in music. It's crazy to think that a man of such prestige took the time out of his day, to get on a 3 a.m. flight to come work with us—little ol’ Doane University—for one hour.
Not only did he come to work with us, he praised us, complimented us and he made us feel like we were the biggest deal.
I cannot be more grateful for another wonderful opportunity that Dr. Gilbert has worked to give to us. The experience with Col. Gabriel is something I will never forget!
Taking another step up today after working with one more clinician out of a handful from this semester has given me butterflies about performing at the Kennedy Center tomorrow.
I’m excited. You should be excited. SWE will represent Doane, Nebraska and the rest of the Midwest very well!