Message Bearing Marching Bands

High school marching band shows reflect our priorities and our insanities. How can they help make us better?

By Mark D. Harris

Ours is a marching band family – four of our five children have been in marching bands at the high school and/or college level.  The other one was in the orchestra. Our kids have been at Hayfield and Thomas Jefferson (TJ) High Schools in northern Virginia, Collierville High School in Tennessee, Shady Spring High School in West Virginia, and the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. We have enjoyed parades, pep bands, and shows at football halftimes and band competitions. Dance teams, color guards, drum majors, and lines of marching and playing students entertain us every week in every autumn.   

High school marching band shows have themes, ranging from the musical (the Music of Queen), the cinematic (Illusion, including Pure Imagination from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory), and the historical (the Transcontinental Railway). Bands compete before judges, who score them on such measures as musicality, marching/dance, visuals, guard, pit, and drumline. At the end of every competition, the band with the highest score in their division wins a trophy. But what do judges find worthy of acclaim? Continue reading “Message Bearing Marching Bands”

Whatever Happened to Beauty?

A look at beauty denied, misunderstood, reviled, and ignored, in the modern world.

By Mark D. Harris

The other day I was driving to the Mine Academy in Beckley for a strategic planning session. Nancy called and bade me to look to the southeast, where I beheld a particularly stunning sunrise. On arriving a few minutes early at the meeting, I mentioned the sunrise to several people, but only a few bothered to look out of the window. On a hike last summer, Nancy found a tiny deep purple flower amidst dying grasses. On a different occasion, she spotted a set of intricate ice crystals astride a fallen log and a pile of snow. As with the Mine Academy example, others in the area didn’t notice, or didn’t care. Life is composed of little moments of beauty such as these – to miss the beauty is to miss life itself. Why do so few people seem to notice?

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Ballroom Dancing

Songs and dances for fathers to dance at their daughter’s weddings and other important occasions. 

By Mark D. Harris

My daughter Anna is getting married, and I have been taking dance lessons. As any real dancer reading the following can tell, I am no dancer. Yet, like many a lead footed father, I am willing to try. My youngest daughter tells me that when she gets married, I had better be a terrific dancer. I anticipate having a few years, but I need to get on it.

The following list is an attempt to match the right dance with the right song, knowing that many dance styles can be used for many different songs. It is also a memory aid, as it can be hard to remember every dance move, especially when you don’t practice every day.

Principles of dancing

  1. Women dance because women like to dance. Men dance because women like to dance.
  2. The man’s purpose in dancing is to make the woman look good.

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Music and Emotion

Music stirs the emotions in unique ways. How does music affect us? How can we use it to accomplish our goals in life? How can God work through music in us to achieve His will?

By Mark D. Harris

Our father could never understand our taste in music. It was the 1980s, and my younger brother and I were teens. Dad was a singer and loved music, but preferred the Bobby Vinton style to the Axl Rose style. More than once he asked, “why do you listen to that trash?”, a question that every generation asks their children and grandchildren.  We were both involved in the youth group at church, and my favorite artist at the time was Keith Green. He was a talented Christian singer who was sincere about his faith, but tragically died in 1982 from a plane crash, as so many other musicians have. My brother found Ozzy Osbourne more to his taste.

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