Two fifteen-passenger vans roll up to a school and begin offloading a conglomeration of bins, drums, cases, stands, keyboards, and other percussion implements. In just a few minutes, the MBU coach bus pulls into the parking lot, letting off a stream of college students all in khaki and blue. The building is soon bustling with the noise and motion of set-up for a performance. This scene repeated itself almost daily on the MBU's recent symphonic band tour through Michigan.
The Band Tour Routine
Each morning the band performed a concert of classical and fun music at a Christian school. One of the pieces the children always loved was “Themes from Up.” Several of the band members performed a short skit before the band played the medley of songs from the popular movie. Freshman pastoral major and percussionist Dan Peal listed “Themes from Up” as his favorite song in the band repertoire, commenting, “Our skit was fun to perform, and it put smiles on so many little faces in every audience.”
After the chapels, the band loaded up and headed towards the evening destination. There they would perform an all-sacred concert at a local church. The band would travel to within a couple minutes of the church where the evening concert was to be held during the afternoon. They then usually stopped somewhere to relax for a little bit and find some coffee. The advance team, consisting of about 10 people who rotated through riding in the vans instead of the bus, reached the church before the bus to figure out the best setup for the band, unload percussion, and begin setting up chairs.
The Band Tour Recap
“One of the biggest challenges I had to deal with,” recalled advance team leader Andrew Holloway, “was coordinating my team members to get the band equipment to the right church on time and set up before the rest of the band arrived. I had to rely on God and the knowledge and experience of my teammates to make things work.”
While band tour functions as great promotion for MBU in both schools and churches, tour is really about ministering. On a ministry-focused tour such as this, there are many opportunities to lead by service and example. Band president and saxophonist Justin Bachmann stated, “Being president really made me think about ministry more seriously on tour. It’s one thing to set ministry as your personal goal, but it’s a whole different aspect trying to help others focus on ministry.”
Once the bus arrived at the church, every band member jumped in to help unload and set up for the evening service. When asked what made this band tour unique, band director Dr. David Brown replied, “Group unity. I didn’t sense any schism or activity that would have been contrary to the whole.” Bachmann agreed, pointing out that the primary thing he was pleased with from tour was how the band “bonded and worked together to create a unified group.”
Each band member received an assigned job on band tour. How everyone did their job and then jumped in to help someone else demonstrated the unity that Brown and Bachmann both referenced. The “leading by example” attitude embodies what MBU hopes to instill in each of their students. Dr. Brown expressed his delight at seeing that type of servant-leadership blossom on band tour.
Toward the end of tour Dr. Brown's voice went downhill. Some of the band members had to introduce songs during concerts and also take vocal leadership off the stage. “I have great leadership in the band,” he remarked. “I learned that I can and should lean on my student leadership even more on a tour like this. This is not all about me, and it was refreshing to me that we didn’t miss a beat. In fact we did better, I thought, as a result of the leaders having to step up. I guess that shouldn’t surprise me because that’s what we’re all about, but it was really gratifying to see it play out.”
Dan Peal’s comment sums up the band’s collective response to Band Tour 2018. “I would pack up and go out again today if I could. The opportunity to give God glory by being a blessing to people, by using my gifts to serve others, and by praising Him through it all is a chance that I don’t take lightly. I can’t wait for the next MBU tour!”
Mr. Peter Wright, the MBU Communications office director and director of Chorale, traveled with the band as the speaker and tuba player. Mr. Mark McMillen drove the coach bus for the band throughout the entire tour. The band would like to thank these two men for their cheerful service and spirit.
The band would also like to extend the invitation to Christmas Band Chapel, held Dec. 6 in the Gym at Maranatha. All are welcome to attend.