Hanging Up The Hat

I like hats.

I wear a lot of hats. Some I wear to pretend I’m someone else. Some I wear when I do particular things or when I go particular places. There are different hats for different circumstances and different hats for different seasons.

I wear a lot of hats… figuratively as well as literally. By that I mean that I fill many roles for many different people. I am a son, a brother, a husband, a father, a friend, a neighbor, a pastor, a mentor, a board member. Occasionally I’m an actor and sometimes I’m a teacher and at times I’m a counselor.

I wear a lot of hats.

About 16 years ago I put on a new hat. I became a Band Dad when my oldest son signed up for band. When you connect that occasion with the fact that I was a band director for seven years before I started pastoring, you see that it was a significant thing to put on that new hat.

Tonight I will go to my last concert as a public school band dad.

It’s weird, I tell you.

I have been to at least a couple of public school band concerts every year since 2002. I’ve been to SO MANY marching contests and football games and band booster meetings. And the fundraisers—Oh my WORD the fundraisers…

I’ve traveled many miles, met many friends, and made SO MANY great memories through band. I’ve grilled more chicken breasts and quesadillas than I can count.

I’ve watched three of my kids find their spouses just like I found mine – in band.

I’ve seen two of my kids go on to earn some serious scholarship money through band.

It’s been such a huge part of our lives. And it’s not entirely over. We still have a few of our expanded brood significantly involved in band into the future. But my public school band dad days are coming to a close.

I’m hanging up that hat.

It’s a season that is coming to a close. And, with it’s passing, a new one begins. I don’t know all of the hows and whys and whens and wheres, but I know that there are great things ahead. I know that there are concerts yet to come that I can choose to attend as a pastor and friend cheering on the kids that he is so proud to support. And there are so many other ways to grow and learn and experience.

It’s hard to hang up this hat.

I like hats.

I wear a lot of hats.

As I hang up an old one rich with memories, I trust the next one I pick up will bring as much joy as the last.

To all of my band family, thanks for helping me enjoy this hat.

The Guy that Does the “Woohoo!”

Tomorrow is my last big band contest as a high school band dad.

I will grill (with great help from some other dads) about 70 pounds of chicken. I will ice down the bottled water and load the ice chests in the trailer. I will don my Duncan Band Boosters hat (one-of-a-kind, I might add) and may even take up one of those little red flags.

I will do my best to gather as many of the other parents together up high in the middle as I can. I won’t be able to sit still while the band before ours gets out of the way.

And just as our band starts into the stadium, while it’s still relatively quiet in the place, I will do what has almost gotten me smacked a number of times and often gets me disdainful scowls from startled people in front of us.

You see, I’m the guy that does the “Woohoo!”

I’ve been doing it for ten years now. I guess this makes my eleventh season.

I do it when it’s quiet, before the applause and the music. I do it between songs and at random times. The kids know it’s me. They ask me about it if, for some reason, I’m not there.

It’s just who I am—the guy that does the “Woohoo!”

I don’t think they know why.

I used to be a band director before I became a pastor. I was usually pretty good at getting my students fired up for a performance. Unfortunately, I wasn’t all that great at getting them musically prepared for the performance… but we all have to learn to work out of our strengths, right?

Now, I’m a band dad. It means I’m not looking to see what they mess up. I’m not watching to see what to fix next.

I’m a dad. And, though not all of those kids out there are mine, they are mine by association. Besides, seems like half of them have been around our table at one time or another.

I woohoo when they’re coming into the stadium so they will know that the other parents and I are in our places and ready to celebrate their performance.

I woohoo when it’s quiet, before the music begins, so they will know that I already think they’re the best band of the day—my personal favorite.

I woohoo so that my kids and their friends will know that I’m watching them and cheering for them and so excited to hear the music that is in them come pouring out through their instruments.

I woohoo so that every parent and spectator from every other band in that place knows those are my kids. That’s my band. This is our turn to fill the place with music.

I woohoo to let these students know that I am ready to do my part—to lean in and listen hard and watch closely and experience the music in sight and in sound with them.

It’s our last big head-to-head competition marching contest of the season tomorrow. And I will be there. And maybe this time those kids will hear that familiar sound and know that they are already champions in my book. Maybe they will hear it and that jolt of excitement will spring through their nervous system and they will play with more intensity and more attention and more passion than ever before.

I’m the guy that does the “Woohoo!”

And one last time under the lights tomorrow night I want to bounce it off the visitor’s bleachers and fill the stadium with that familiar, annoying, silly sound.

It’s what I do. Now you know why.