Students in the marching band at Mountain View High School are logging long practice hours as they prepare for a New Year’s Day appearance before Queen Elizabeth in London.
The band was invited to participate in the London New Year’s Day Parade.
The Mesa group is one of 15 marching bands invited to participate. Most of those bands are from the United States, mostly because there are no marching bands in England.
This isn’t the first big parade for the Mountain View band. Two years ago the band members marched in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
They march in several local parades every year, including the Veterans Day parade, a parade on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and for the Mountain View homecoming festivities.
The band marched in a St. Patrick’s Day parade in Ireland a few years ago and in a parade in China in 2003. It also played at the Gator Bowl and the Sugar Bowl and was in Hawaii for the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
The New Year’s Day parade in London is equivalent to the Macy’s parade, band director Scott Burgener said. It’s a 2.5-mile route and the Mesa band will perform three pieces as it marches. Exactly what those are hasn’t yet been nailed down, Burgener said.
It’s estimated that 2 million people will line the parade route to watch and between 10 and 15 million more will watch it on TV, Burgener said.
Burgener said he tries to plan one trip abroad every two years for the band.
“Travel is always something I’ve valued for the kids,” he said. “They can share their music with other countries.”
Burgener has been the Mountain View band director since 1999. He’s scheduled the trips out of the U.S. to help students learn about other countries, improve their world views “and get out of their bubbles.”
The 120 Mesa students who are making the trip and 20 or so sponsors leave Dec. 28 and return Jan. 4. The price tag for the trip isn’t cheap, Burgener said. It’s costing each participant $3,350 and people have to pay their own way.
That’s one reason the band has been having one major fundraiser each month, he said. Next up is a mattress sale later in October and a craft fair on Saturday, Nov. 28 in the school parking lot.
Band member Jordan Donaldson, a trumpet player, said finding out about the parade invitation was pretty exciting a year ago when the invitation came. An official with the English government came to Mesa to make the announcement at a school assembly last year. But in the year since, excitement waned a bit, he said. However, now that students are practicing and raising money for the trip, the level of excitement is picking up.
Donaldson is relatively devoted to his trumpet. Besides marching band he plays in the school’s wind ensemble and jazz band, is in the Phoenix Youth Symphony and a brass and percussion ensemble named Sonic Brass. This is his eighth year playing trumpet. When he first signed up for band, he thought he’d play percussion, but after showing up with the wrong kind of drumsticks, he switched to trumpet and never looked back.
Donaldson spends about 20 hours a week playing the trumpet. His plan is to major in music in college and have a career as a member of a professional orchestra. He’s got his sights set on the Eastman School of Music, the Manhattan School of Music, Northwestern University or Arizona State University for college.
Donaldson said his advice to younger students about taking band or music classes is to do it and stick with it.
“It’s life changing,” he said. “It takes up a lot of your life, but you’ll make friends and the time is worth it.”
Donaldson spent a few weeks in London a few months ago as part of an Arizona Ambassadors of Music program. He got to see some of the city’s sights then, but nonetheless is excited to return and see things he missed the first time.
He’s hopeful it won’t be as cold in London as it was two years ago in New York City for the Macy’s parade.
Burgener said the students will see the big attractions — Big Ben, Parliament, the Windsor castle, Buckingham Palace and the changing of the guard, Greenwich and Abbey Road.
To donate to the band’s trip, email Burgener at email@example.com and he’ll send you instructions about making a donation. The donations are eligible for Arizona’s tax credit program.
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