Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

Minuteman Marching Band Memories, part XII

The further (mis-)adventures of a senior UMass drum major, fall 1987 … in this case, we lived a weekend that was full! …

Homecoming / Home Game #4 vs. Boston University: Saturday, October 24, 1987

[] The morning’s practice consisted mostly of work on Can Can. The Turners Falls High School band visited the rehearsal, which helped our concentration, as observers always seemed to. The run-through of Can Can yielded the exuberant shout from Mr. Parks: “This is gonna be WILD!” It was certainly a thrill to watch Heidi ascend the hyper-podium, a little red one on top of the regular one. That put her five complete feet in the air, not including her own height, and caused some amusement as she fought to stay on top of it.

Before postgame, Sue Holman [’87, guard, alum] called from the stands, “Go Heidi! Don’t fall off!” And she answered, “Thank you; I won’t!”.

Rehearsal: Franklin, MA: Sunday, October 25, 1987

[] On the way to MICA Finals; a particularly cranky rehearsal, at that. When a trumpeter called out that they couldn’t do one particular drill maneuver due to what struck Heidi as a trivial problem, Heidi set the tone for the rest of the day, with a phrase that I’ve since used myself occasionally: “Well, we’ll all have to deal with the minor problems as best we can, won’t we?” In other words, we’re not in the mood. I liked her style.

[] Everybody seemed very irritable that day. Maybe it was that we were rehearsing on the road on a Sunday morning, which we hadn’t done all season. Maybe it was that we’d wailed away the day before at Homecoming and hadn’t yet recharged. (That was me.) At least some people around me had the sense to make light of the atmosphere:

Lee Ann Riley (guard instructor): “Gee, Heidi, everybody seems touchy today.” Heidi: [mock touchiness] “Oh, shut up.”

Exhibition at MICA Finals: Foxboro, MA: Sunday, October 25, 1987

[] In the Foxboro Stadium parking lot, we got off the buses, in uniform, and coaxed everybody to separate musical warmups on a distant, upper parking lot. Heidi, Chris and I went over How To Get The Band On The Field. BOY COULD HEIDI PACE! Back and forth, back and forth. Chris and I looked at each other, more than a little amused. “Slow down, Heidi,” I pleaded. “We haven’t got a single reason to be nervous.” Without missing a beat (or a step), she replied, “Don’t stop me now. I’m rolling.”

We were going to make the entrance in a tight formation of Heidi’s invention. Her prediction was, “He’ll see it and say to me, ‘Heidi… what was that?’ And I’ll say, ‘George, you told me to be creative … so … I was creative!’”

[] We moved (ssssshhhh! 247 people tiptoeing!) to a holding area just outside the Stadium — hurry up and wait again. Apparently Kevin [Denninger ’88, photographer] had recruited our friends, the Agawam HS drum majors and a few other Agawam bandos to carry the garbage bags containing the balloons that would be let go at the end of the Can Can production. We presume their director knew this was going on, and obediently did not ask questions of Kevin.

[] “Drum Majors Heidi Sarver, Rob Hammerton and Chris Gardiner: Is the Band Ready?” Yes, and our rather complex salute went flawlessly. It was the Build-A-Salute; it was eight counts to present-arms and eight counts back to order-arms; and I probably hadn’t concentrated that hard in a long while.

[] During the Hoedown, Heidi and I decided to swing around square-dance-like for awhile. We went around in one direction, switched arms and went in the other; then she said, “Again, but FASTER!” And we whipped around fast enough to become white-and-red blurs, our capes stretched out behind us, completely horizontal. I have no memory of how we got out of it.

[] Okay. Stars and Stripes. Mace toss again. Well, here goes. I tossed, I rolled. So far, so good. I looked up and saw that this mace was going to land either on me or behind me. I tried catching it behind me. (That would’ve freaked people RIGHT out.) No good — it hit the artificial turf point down, and bounced, as if it had been shot out of a cannon: fifteen feet up and ten yards to the right. Here I was, running after the damn thing. As I charged the stands sheepishly, Mr. Parks shouted something from the sideline, which I took as “DON’T PROJECT IT.” [That is, the mistake.] So I didn’t. It turned out that he actually was saying, “Throw it again!”

You mean he would’ve let me?

Damn, damn, DAMN!

To be continued…


October 11, 2010 - Posted by | band, drum major, GNP, humor, marching band, music, UMMB


  1. Wow, thanks for that Rob! I have NO recollection of that balloon release at all but it was clearly me in 87…. Yikes, the memory fails.

    Comment by Terri | October 11, 2010 | Reply

  2. And here’s the follow up to George saying, “Get the band on the field…be creative.” part—

    So I thought (so young, so foolish) that if we marched into the stadium in a 1 X 1 block, as tight as possible and then it EXPLODED to show how big we really were, it would be REALLY COOL.

    After the show George came up to me and said, “Just so you know, it still looked really big even in that tight block.” And he smiled and walked away.

    I had never told him my rationale behind what we did–he just knew it. I miss that.

    Comment by Heidi | October 12, 2010 | Reply

  3. We had balloons? The things you miss in the drum line… But then again, wasn’t Can-Can the tune with everything, including a unicycling tuba and, literally, the kitchen sink?

    Comment by Steve Robinson | October 13, 2010 | Reply

    • The kitchen sink, yes!!– which as I recall was probably the heaviest single kitchen sink ever made. I’m fighting to recall whether Sean Kennan on the unicycle was ’87 or ’88. That memory hasn’t kicked in yet. I could go watch the video to find out. …Yes, I’ve got video. (Nerd.)

      Comment by rhammerton1 | October 14, 2010 | Reply

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