The last refrainĀ 

No where in a music score does it tell a listener how to react properly. When you read music as you play it’ll cue your brain to manipulate the instrument that you are playing into crescendos or fortissimo or some other type of expression, but it doesn’t give the listener any cues as to how the music will affect their heart.  It’s up to you the musician to put  passion and voice into the music to make it memorable for the listener. 

He was the former band director of our little school in Iowa, and he passed away in a bike accident a few short days ago. Last night as I sat in the hot gym I sat with  his friends and family as we listened to speeches, scriptures and songs given in honor of a man who devoted his life to the art of making sure the listener listened to the music being played. 

His friend spoke of times they adventured. His oldest daughter spoke of his love for doing small things everyday to master anything.  Love poured out of the lifelong friend who sang “Bourning Cry.” Then there was a band, 40 steller musicians that offered their time and talent to honor the legacy of a man who had touched them in some way. 

I listened to the music played by this all star band made up of former students, colleagues, and lifelong friends and my heart captured a glimpse of deeper things that happen when one gives their time to play in a band. The diligence of practice that must occur. The friendships that form between people who play the same instument. The sheer grit it takes sometimes to get through learning a new song or instrument. And for this band specifically, it was the beauty of many parts making something amazing together to honor a man who knew God consistently, loved his family emmensly, and gave over 30 years of his life to the art of making music in the local school. 


Mr Dahn, you’ll be missed by this community you called home. You’ll be missed by generations of band students you so patiently guided and lead over your years as band director, but most importantly your life will be missed by a whole host of people that you encouraged excellence from simply because your passion for great music was contagious. 

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together we win.

I live in a very small town. A place where everyone knows everyone, or at least they think they do. A place where your best friend most likely is dictated by who your parents hung out with as kids. My grandpa graduated in 1929 from the same high school that I graduated from in 1992. My parents met and fell in love at a very young age on the streets of my home town, both also graduated from the same highschool. Tradition runs deep here, because my story is not unlike a host of other folks who live and breathe this Iowa air. My changers, Lord willing, are on track to graduate from the same high school.

Last night I watched for the third year in a row, our very own lady bulldogs win a trip to the state volleyball tournament. At the end of the very dramatic game, they stood as a team in the middle of the floor and yelled, “Together.”

And I wondered. How many parents watching could echo the same word with one voice?

When you come from a school where the tradition is very deep in competitive sports, it takes everything in my being to take a back seat and just be quiet. To allow everything to go on as normal. To allow the backbiting and the name calling to become second nature. To allow secret teams to just go on playing, excluding other players.. all in the name of the win.

When players play together great things can happen, proof of that last night. There were no stars on the court of our team. Just a bunch of ladies who work their butt off year round to be the best they can. Twelve ladies who don’t all see court time each game, but practice like they do. Pushing each other to new heights of excellence. I smile when I see the bench rejoice with a really great point won, or even encourage the floor when a hard fought volley is lost. That kind of team doesn’t just happen. It’s fostered from a young age. Well done parents and coaches.

When parents play together one voice of encouragement can be heard from the stands. When parents play nicely with each other, the girls on the court are free to play as a team and the coaches job becomes easier. Parents play a pivotal role in the tradition of excellence. Parents are the role models, and believe me your kids are watching.

Being from a small town, I probably really am going out on a limb here just writing all this down. To become “that mom” who is willing to call a spade a spade and tell parents that this whole volleyball gig, which starts in grade 4, is about who you are inside. To learn how to play as a team. To learn the discipline of hard work both as a starting player or a bench encourager. To learn how to win well.

Can I encourage you parents? To become better, to become what I know you have in you. To become a loving and encouraging part of the team. A part of the team that can not and will never see the floor during a game, but will have a very very very big impact of attitudes and beliefs of the girls who do. If we parent’s commit to changing.. there is no telling how far the tradition of great volleyball will go.

Together really does win.