From May 5 to May 8, 132 students with Buchser Middle School’s Music Department visited Disneyland. During this time, Buchser’s Intermediate Concert Band, Advanced Symphonic Band and Advanced Jazz Band made their mark on the Hollywood Backlot Stage at Disney California Adventure.
In a series of three concerts, each band played at least five songs per show. Songs performed included the “National Anthem,” “It’s a Small World,” a medley of Earth, Wind and Fire songs, and “Birdland.”
Money from fundraisers and donations helped pay for what would be at least the 25th annual Disneyland trip taken by Buchser’s music students.
“When the graduates come back, they tell me they don’t remember much of what they did in middle school, but they remember the Disneyland trip,” said David Anderson, Band Director and Director of Buchser’s Music Department. “Students learn to be independent on these trips. Students are given a certain amount of money and they have to budget to make their money last. They have to follow the rules, which they did well. They have to be on time for roll call and the performances. They’re using a lot of skills they’d need for high school and in life. I’m retiring after this year. This was a superlative way to say good-bye to the kids and to Disneyland.”
Back in October, Anderson and the Buchser Music Association submitted an application, with a DVD featuring all of the school’s bands, to the Disney Performing Arts program. Buchser Middle School was one of the few middle schools that was given the opportunity to perform in this May talent showcase, as most of the other performers represented high schools or colleges.
Jacob Ruiz, 14, plays the baritone saxophone in the school’s Advanced Symphonic Band and the Advanced Jazz Band. At Disneyland, this eighth-grader performed twice on May 6 and once on May 7 with his school’s bands. By performing at an internationally famous theme park, Ruiz gained a better appreciation for the hard work he and his band mates put into their music.
“The performances were special because you feel like you work at Disneyland like the other performers there,” said Ruiz. “I soloed for the Advanced Jazz Band for a song called ‘Smooth’ by Carlos Santana. It was a cool and an exhilarating moment. I played my solo on the B flat blues scale. I improvised on the spot.”
Buchser parent Lorrie McPheeters co-organized the field trip with fellow school parent Cherie Ruiz. These two mothers, among about 40 other parent chaperones, had to summon their stamina to manage and keep track of the middle school students during this four-day field trip. Parent volunteers also drove the equipment truck, loaded and unloaded items backstage for performances and supported the students at the hotel near the theme park where the group stayed.
“This trip also gives chaperones a chance to get to know their child’s friends and who their children are in the band with,” said McPheeters, whose son plays the trumpet. “We do it because we know what we’re giving the kids is a lifetime of memories. Once you hear them perform and hear how professional they sound, everything was worth it.”