2008 USAAAMB Members Keep in Touch, Offer Advice for 2009 All-Americans

 On January 5, 2008, the first-ever U.S. Army All-American Marching Band (USAAAMB) took the field at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. The game at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, featured the nation’s top high school senior football players as well as the finest high school senior marching musicians. The band is sponsored by SportsLink, the U.S. Army, and MENC. Click here for profiles of 2008 band members.

As 2009 USAAAMB members prepared to travel to Texas for their All-American experience, MENC asked 2008 members whether they had kept in touch with friends they made in Texas last January and if they had advice for the next All-American Marching Musicians.

Here are some of their responses:
Kevin Swanson, trumpet, University of Nevada in Reno
“I did make plenty of friends last year, and I keep in touch with a few of them on occasion. In fact, last week I was in the cafeteria and ran into Kelsey Jo [Wyatt, an All-American piccolo player from Elko Nevada High School]. I am now playing in jazz lab, wind ensemble, and orchestra, majoring in music performance.
“My advice to the new All-Americans is ‘Your time in San Antonio is much too short to do anything but hit the ground running. Know your part well before you arrive. When you get here, meet as many people as you can. This is not the time or place to be shy. It will be over before you know it!’”

Alison Sancken, trumpet, Luther College, Decorah, Iowa
“Yes! I still keep in touch with my friends from the AAAMB! I talk to them at least a couple of times a month. After graduation I performed in my local municipal band, went to Disney World, and just hung out with friends for the summer. I am a nursing student, but I am still in concert band, an orchestra, and pep band. “My advice to the new students is ‘Just be yourself! You will meet some of the most amazing people there! And take LOTS of pictures.’”

Amanda Steiger, piccolo, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
“All-American was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me. I still keep in touch with some people I met through e-mail, and one lived about half an hour from me, and now we go to different colleges, but we still get together regularly.
“After graduation, I spent a couple weeks in the summer staffing my high school’s marching band camp. I now attend The University of North Carolina at Greensboro and am majoring in music performance with principal in flute and secondary in horn. The advice I would give to 2009 AAAMB members would be to just have fun. Even with the long rehearsals, you are a select few of the best from around the country, and take pride in what you are doing. Embrace the pain, it only makes you better, listen to the leaders; they are there to help … oh yeah, and don’t stay up till 4 A.M. when you have an 8 A.M. rehearsal!’”

The 2009 game is on January 3 at 12 noon CST and will be broadcast on NBC. The halftime show will be Webcast live. For more information, visit All-American Marching Band Webcast.

Roz Fehr, December 19, 2008. © MENC: The National Association for Music Education