Friday, April 26, 2013

Romeo and Joliet?-Alex Bokemper

Alex Bokemper

Imagine seeing this every morning! This is Sarah White and Joe Amsberry on the bus headed to Joliet, IL. I decided that it would be something to brighten your day since I don't have any pictures of Joliet or Naperville themselves because I never had the chance to take out my camera. :)

Anyway, today we are in Joliet and Naperville, IL. Joliet is home to Hufford Junior High school, where the first school band originated. It's crazy to think that there was a time when there was no band in school! From what I remember, they are celebrating their hundredth anniversary this year. We got to Hufford Junior High school around lunchtime and met up with Wartburg alum Laura Jelinek. She was wonderful (although, I must say I'm a little biased because she is also a flute player which is obviously the best instrument). I always love working with younger students. When I imagine what I would have felt like if I were in their position, I feel honored to help them get better at their instrument. Even more than that, to stick with it through college and through the rest of their lives.

We were not in Joliet for very long so it's on to Naperville! We arrived at St. Timothy Lutheran Church at around 2:00. Set-up and loading went fairly smoothly (I'm loading chief so that's important to me). However, we soon realized that the church didn't have any music stands. In order to understand the performance space, we ended up playing some scales during rehearsal. Eventually Doc decided that we could play with the music on the floor. Our sound wasn't as good, but we got a decent idea of what we were going to be faced with acoustically. It was a very "live" space. In case you're a parent of a band kid or a random person that stumbled upon this blog, that means it had an echo, which means it is harder to play together, and the loud dynamics get ten times louder. It's difficult to play in, but I've always loved a challenge.

The concert went pretty well. Doc talked a lot, but he always does, and he talked about our traditions this time, something I don't think I've ever heard him talk about during a concert other than singing at the end. It brought a smile to my face thinking about all of the crazy traditions the flutes have (The Spoon, tie-dye, tattoos, hugs and tinks, etc.). I know most of you don't know what any of those are, but if you're a current or former Wartburg flute player you'll know, and it will make you smile too. We are a family after all, and I have come to realize that is ever more prevalent during tour. I can't wait to see how our family grows closer over the next few weeks.

At this point, it is 10:58, which means there are less than 48 hours until we depart for Beijing, China! I'm so excited! I'm also very impatient, I just want to get there already! However, getting to interact with the Hufford Junior High students, or hearing Doc talk about all of our traditions, makes me realize how important Pre-Tour is. It's not just about practice. Sure, everything is practice, and we do need the practice, but we get the amazing opportunity to teach someone something about their instrument, or music, or even college that they didn't know before, and they will teach us as well. 

Now, I have no intentions of being a teacher, let alone a music teacher, (I want to be a graphic designer) so these types of opportunities are few and far between for me. So, I plan on cherishing every second I have with those students. They're amazing, talented people, and are so grateful for the opportunity that we are sharing with them. It's times like these where I think that maybe I can make a difference in the world, or maybe I already have.

Alex Bokemper


  1. It was an honor to host you. My students had a great time. They couldn't stop smiling after you sang the Wartburg Loyalty.

    The hosts from church had a great time with the students and have already sent me nice emails!

    I'm glad that the flutes are still doing the spoon! I was section leader and my sister was a flutist in the Wind Ensemble as a junior when we started the spoon! I also started flute tattoos. I must be awesome!

    Thanks for the great time!

    Laura Jelinek

  2. Gah! Sarah, wonderful to see your shining face! Hope you all are having a great time so far. :)


  3. Love the picture Sarah and Joe :) One of the highlights of my break so far has been reading these posts. Keep going! Can't wait to hear alllllll the stories :)

    God bless,

    Angela Zook

  4. It's awesome to see who actually started the spoon and tatoo tradition. It was definitely one of my favorite as a flute player too. Hopefully you're still doing the Chicken McNugget chant?? I really got into that one ;). I got to go with WE the first time they ever went to Japan, so that's pretty awesome too that we have sister cities all over the world. It's so cool you all are going to China too. Enjoy every minute!! Time flies so fast...

    1. Yes we still do the Chicken Mcnugget chant. It is currently bestowed upon Carissa Serbousek.