Op-Ed: Thoughts on the Upcoming Music Trip


Owen Druehl playing the saxophone

Owen Druehl, Contributing Writer

The Hastings High School Music Programs will be performing at a festival in Hershey Park, Pennsylvania on April 28 and 29. As co-president of the school’s Concert Band, I am especially excited for the opportunity to lead the band in the school’s first music trip since the pandemic. Yet, I also feel the weight of the event and its significance as one of my last contributions to Hastings High School.

A music trip has been somewhere on the horizon for seemingly my entire career as a music student. The opportunity of traveling with friends to play music together was occasionally brought up in elementary school in hopes of inspiring indifferent students to continue playing their instrument. Infrequent middle school walks past the trophy-packed case displayed in the high school’s lobby demonstrated the music program’s previous success and invoked a sense of awe within me. A trip to Washington D.C. was scheduled in April of my ninth-grade spring, yet it would turn out to be one of the first cancellations of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I sporadically struggled during my first year of high school. It seemed like everything in my life had gotten more complicated: the material I was learning in class was more difficult, sports required a larger time commitment, and my friendships were becoming more complicated as relationships evolved. At times, I felt strained in finding the person I wanted to be, but my band community was a constant in my life despite even being in a period of its own transition. Mr. Day’s introduction as the new band director that fall was an energetic yet unexpected addition to the community. The trip scheduled for my ninth grade spring rallied the group around achieving objective success in the competition, which was in front of us for the entire year, but we never had the opportunity to perform for the judges on that late April day. I am a firm believer that goals are the most typical tool for accomplishing anything. (One of my favorite quotes is from Casey Neistat, the filmmaker and famed entertainer, who once said, “without a goal, you can’t score.”) However, I have learned that placing so much emphasis on a single event can be destructive.

I have occasionally become so taken up with the goals I set that my life loses its cherished balance. I have been prone to mentally combine all of my other problems into the task that seems most pressing, as if my success is a parlay in sports betting. The band trip scheduled for the spring of 2020 was a harsh example of this. I was caught up in the promise that performing well would solve all my other problems. I was entranced by the belief that the future would unconditionally be better, despite a lack of change in the present. I was focused on playing “Brooklyn Air” by Michael Markowski (one of my favorite pieces the band was going to play in 2020) perfectly–and failed to appreciate the song’s mesmerizing phrases.

I have appreciated the present more and more as I have gotten older. My senior quote, “yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but right now is a gift…that is why it is called the present,” which Master Oogway said in Kung Fu Panda, exemplifies this change. I have had the fortune to have a second chance to prepare for my first music trip this year. I was able to thoroughly enjoy the process of learning the themes of Les Miserables:’ “Master of the House” has proven to be an especially common earworm. I even had a second chance to get lost in the harmonies of “Brooklyn Air,” as the band is playing it on our upcoming trip.

While I am tremendously excited for the band trip in just a few short weeks–and everything else the future has in store–I am scared at the pace at which adult life seems to be approaching. I have lived in Hastings my entire life, and I am excited to leave. Yet, I know every time I come back, it will never feel as much like home as it does right now.

I am incredibly appreciative of my band community. I would like to extend my gratitude to Mr. Day who grew into his role as band director right as the pandemic was starting. He deserves many thanks for doing an unbelievable job maintaining the program despite the jarring challenges we faced. He kept the tempo regardless of what was happening around us in true conductor style.