Looking Back - Marching with the Bands of America Honor Band in the 2013 Rose Parade®
Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Looking Back - Marching with the Bands of America Honor Band in the 2013 Rose Parade®

Written by Rebecca Palmer

Rebecca Palmer, alumna of Henry Clay High School in Lexington, KY and Music for All programs, tells us first-hand about her experience with the Bands of America Honor Band that marched in the 2013 Rose Parade®

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It was my first day in California for the Rose Parade® and we were getting fitted for uniforms. We were all waiting in line and talking with the other students, it was so interesting because I met someone from Alaska on one side of me and someone from the South on the other side of me. Also, one of the drum majors was going up and down the whole line memorizing everyone’s name, instrument and favorite color or food, which was pretty impressive! Just the immediate chemistry between everyone was astounding.

We had many rehearsals over the next week, but the one that sticks out most is the last rehearsal for the parade. We started with a fun dance warm-up and then after that we had the most impressive rehearsal I have ever been a part of. They had taped off the parade corner and we only had a handful of hours to master the turn. The work ethic from my fellow band members was outstanding. After every set, we all sprinted back and you could just feel the energy everyone was putting into the rehearsal. I remember the directors telling us to slow down and pace ourselves but everyone was so dedicated that we just wanted to go all out so we could be the best we could possibly be. 

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The day of the parade came and I couldn’t believe it. Along the route there was a spot where we went under a bridge and all of the sound echoed back on the band and it blocked everything else out. To just be so immersed in the marching and the music and to be surrounded by so many people I had grown close with was an amazing feeling.

My happiest memory from the Rose Parade® was at the end of the parade route when we stopped and played “Firework” one last time. The drum line started dancing and that energy trickled down to the rest of the band. By the end of the song we were all jumping around and playing our hearts out. We were all so proud of what we accomplished, and to have that moment together of just pure joy brought tears to my eyes. 

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Being a part of the 2013 Bands of America Honor Band in the Rose Parade® helped me as a musician because I got to work with talented instructors like Matt Harloff, who really brings the best out of anyone he directs. Also, I developed a much greater appreciation for playing music as a group because it was amazing how everyone focusing beyond their own sound improved our overall sound. In life, it showed me how much more effective you can be when everyone gives it their all. The dedication and passion that was exhibited in this group was something that I haven’t experienced since because it was just that strong. It truly demonstrated to me what teamwork means and that is something I will always hold near and dear to my heart.

I was a member of the Bands of America Honor Band almost three years ago and it truly changed how I view music and band. Though I have not pursued a career in music, this experience is one I will never forget and Music for All helped make my high school band experience incredible. I still regularly talk to some of the people I met in California as part of the Rose Parade® and we are from all over the U.S. (Texas, Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, to name a few). It’s great that when people from this unique group are traveling across the U.S. they will post in our Facebook group and see if people can meet up every so often. Music for All really provided me with a second band family through this Rose Parade experience and I am truly thankful for that. In fact, my younger sister plays clarinet and is applying to become a member of the Bands of America Honor Band marching at the 2017 Rose Parade®! I hope she makes it so I can go to California and remember my experience again by cheering on her ensemble!

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If you are interested in marching with the Bands of America Honor Band at the 2017 Rose Parade®, applications are still be accepted until January 15, 2016. Learn more and apply at http://www.musicforall.org/what-we-do/tor-honor-band/tor-honor-band.