The band kids

I took the day off on Thursday to care for a sick family member (the dog), so I’m late passing along a must-read story this week from Minnesota State High School League writer John Millea, who had the good fortune of hearing from Linda Gibeau of Austin, Minn., during the state high school basketball tournament a couple of weeks ago.

Linda had a good story. Her daughter, Tyra.

The difference between my generation and Tyra’s is that when I was in high school, few people thought the cool kids were the “band kids.” That’s all changed now, and all for the good.

We recognize the power that music holds, the wisdom of the people who teach it, and the character of the people who play it.

Anyway, this week Millea wrote about Tyra, who has Down Syndrome, and it’s worth reading before it scrolls off his page and gets difficult to find.

Oh, it’s also a story about the power of a mother.

When Tyra started middle school, Linda asked about having her be part of the middle school band program. “I said, ‘I don’t care if you give her foam sticks and a foam drum, I want her in the band.’ ”

Watching Tyra play with the band is a real treat. Her skills have improved to the point that she can perform the national anthem perfectly. But hanging out with the other band kids and being part of the group is the best part.

“I never played a musical instrument and was never in sports,” said Linda, who works as a substitute teacher in Austin, her hometown. “I live vicariously through my kid. I work the same hours as she’s in school, and if the band is heading to a game in the morning I cancel my job and go. I’m the only substitute teacher at every game and I’ve got a (school employee) badge so we go for free. Wrestling, girls or boys basketball, volleyball, track meets, everything, I go.”

Tyra is a senior now and will graduate in June with the rest of her class.

From the archive: Ode to the kids in the band (2013)