Afternoons spent surfing the waves and lounging on California’s sunny
beaches seems a delightful way for a Minnesota girl to spend a winter
Rachel Miller, a member of Blaine High School’s marching band, will march in the world-famous Tournament of Roses parade on New Year’s Day. (Photo courtesy of Rachel Miller)
by Sue Austreng
Afternoons spent surfing the waves and lounging on California’s sunny beaches seems a delightful way for a Minnesota girl to spend a winter holiday.
Rachel Miller, a member of Blaine High School’s marching band, will
But for Rachel Miller, marching down Pasadena’s Colorado Boulevard in the sunny 70-degree weather kept perfect time with her winter holiday wishes.
Miller, a senior at Blaine High School and a member of the Bengals marching band, took the trek down Colorado Boulevard during the New Year’s Day Tournament of Roses parade.
“This is just really sweet – it’s the Tournament of Roses parade – now that’s sweet,” Miller said as she prepared to step in time and play her mellophone alongside fellow Bands of America (BOA) Honor Band members from across the nation.
Miller won her place in the Honor Band after a diligent application and audition process that had her competing with hundreds of American high schoolers for membership in the prestigious honors ensemble.
“Last year I saw the Rose parade with my family,” Miller said. “My mom’s cousin lives there and we got to see the parade when we were visiting, so that was nice, but I never thought I’d be marching in the parade this year, so this is really sweet.”
Miller, the daughter of Ann and Dennis Miller of Blaine, spent the week prior to the 2009 Tournament of Roses parade rehearsing and performing in various southern California venues and bonding with her newfound “band buddies.”
“I’m meeting kids from all over,” Miller said. “We all love music, we all love marching band. This is just really sweet.”
BOA band members came from 36 states and 202 high schools.
“We have everyone from everywhere and we’re able to put together a band in, like, two days,” Miller said.”Isn’t that amazing?”
During the week leading up to the Tournament of Roses parade, Miller performed with the BOA band at California State University in Fullerton, at the Tournament of Roses Bandfest and at Disneyland.
The Tournament of Roses Parade, “America’s New Year’s Celebration,” kicked off at 8 a.m. New Year’s Day.
“We (had) to be up at 4 a.m. to line up in Pasadena,” Miller said.
For Miller, donning her Tournament of Roses parade uniform means putting on the best of the best.
“We wear these really sweet Fred J. Miller uniforms. They’re white pants with a red, white and blue top and a white hat. And really lightweight – nothing like Blaine’s uniforms, so we’ll be nice and cool in the sun out here,” Miller said.
Fred J. Miller is a uniform manufacturer specializing in top quality marching band uniforms, drum corps uniforms and color guard uniforms. The company suited-up each member of the BOA Honor Band for the Tournament of Roses parade.
The five-and-a-half-mile Tournament of Roses parade was broadcast on national television and was seen in 28 countries around the world.
For Miller, who has marched with Blaine’s Marching Bengals since her freshman year and served as drum major during the 2008 marching season, the Tournament of Roses parade caps her high school marching career in sunny splendor.
“To be selected for this unique opportunity is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for these students”, said Scott McCormick, Music for All president and chief executive officer.
“The Tournament of Roses Parade is one of our country’s national pageantry treasures and the 2009 Honor Band members will be ambassadors of America’s bands and of their states and communities.”
Miller has been a band ambassador since sixth- grade, when she picked up the French horn for the first time.
Since then she’s also played a number of other brass instruments including trombone and mellophone – and she’s even been part of Blaine High School’s winter drum line.
“I’ve been all over the instruments. I think I’ve played everything except woodwinds,” Miller said, marking her experience as part of the high school’s jazz band, pep band, drum line, and orchestra pit in addition to leading the marching band.
After completing her high school career, Miller plans to take her love of music and performing along with her to Concordia College in Moorhead, where she plans to double-major in music performance or music education and psychology, she said.
“For sure, music will always be a part of my life. Seems it’s always been a major part of my life and I think it always will be,” Miller said.
Sue Austreng is at firstname.lastname@example.org.