Spring Break Update…Then It Gets Emotional

by Jeremy Chance

Monday was probably one of the longest days on this trip to this point. After the all-sacred music show on Sunday, we had the rest of the evening as down time. The four of us just hung out at the Lapham’s for the evening.

Unfortunately that hour-long Skype conversation with Shawn got me in a little bit of trouble. Apparently the Lapham’s were going to bed and I was being a little loud. So Shawn, just an fyi, I got in trouble for our Skyping!

Right now we’re currently between shows at the First Presbyterian Church of Bonita Springs, and we have a little over an hour until the next show. PMO provided dinner for us which just so happened to be Papa John’s pizza. Now, we’ve had some wonderful food, but it was nice to just have a couple of slices of pizza. Here’s evidence of the Glee Club’s dominance of the pizza:

And then there were another five boxes that we were still working on.

I wanted to take this opportunity to write a little bit about the past day and a half of our Spring Break Trip in Florida.

Before I get started about the past couple days, I want to say that one of my Glee Club dreams has come true. I was asked to write the daily student perspective for Monday on the Purdue Musical Organizations website. I find it funny it took so long to ask the public relations and mass communication student to do a little writing, but, hey, I’ll take it.

As I mentioned, Monday was a very long day. The bus picked us up in Fort Myers at 8:30 and we headed to Punta Gorda for the day. We arrived at the Bennedetto’s Steak House around 9:30 and began setting up for the show. Since I’m not on the properties committee, I was able to kick back with most of the guys while they set up. I was able to get a couple of good pictures. I’ll include the one of me from the website, even though I’m not a big fan.

Chilling on the patio

The Patio

The view

After the setup and soundcheck we threw on our tuxes on the bus, put on our mingling shoes and headed inside to wine and dine with the fine people of the Purdue Club of Southwest Florida. As I mentioned in my student perspective on the PMO website, it’s always cool to meet fellow Boilermakers down here. I was able to dine with two wonderful Purdue couples.

[The rest of this post is from after the second show. My computer died and wasn’t able to finish beforehand. Just an fyi]

Now, I think part of the reason Monday was such a long day was directly related to the fact that lunch spanned about two to two and a half hours, I’d say. From the time we began mingling with the people and sitting down for lunch to the time we headed up to stage was literally about two and a half hours. I don’t know if it was a combination of limited servers or lack of preparation of the food, but it seemed like there was about a 45 minute delay between meals. We sat down, talked, had bread and water. Then a little bit later they brought out the salad. Then quite a bit later they brought out the entrees. And finally, the dessert, significantly later. Not that I’m complaining; it was nice to be able to talk with our people for the time that we did. I just wasn’t expecting the meal to last that long. After the meal there was a raffle which also added to the length of the meal. One of the couples at our table won twice though, so we “celebrated” a bit.

We did a quick 45-minute show after the meal was finally complete, and hit the buses and headed for the Burnt Store Presbyterian Church. The Glee Club performed there two years ago when I was a new man, so it was cool to be back. I got to sing the run-out song, so that was a pretty cool experience.

It seems like we’ve hit the point of the year where we’re really starting to click because every show is really on point. For the most part, every cord is locking, every song is rocking and you can just feel the crazy energy!

Last night’s show at the BSPC and the two today were some of the best shows I’ve been a part of in quite some time, and it really got me thinking a lot. Bill, our director, has mentioned a number of times that we have to make the connection between our head and our hearts, meaning we need to give meaning to the music we’re singing. Throughout each of the performances I made more of a conscious effort to put some sort of emotional connection with each piece we did, and I’d like to think a lot of the other guys did too. These past three shows specifically have had more of a unique and special feel to them.

I’ve realized something with these amazing performances: I am very blessed with the opportunities that have been provided for me.

First and foremost, I’m very thankful to at least have the ability to sing. Everyone loves singing. You’re either singing in the car or singing in the shower or singing at a concert. Whether or not it’s good or bad singing, people still love singing. I’m just fortunate to be good enough to be a part of the Glee Club.

Then I realize how blessed I am to be a part of this group. From my recruitment standpoint, we always talk about all of these opportunities that we get by being a part of PMO. We get to travel, we get to learn valuable life skills, we get to interact with such a diverse crowd of people, and lastly, we get to perform. I get to be around people who are so unbelievably talented AND have the same passion for performing as I do.

That’s the most amazing thing to think about sometimes. When I think about all of the people that I’ve met through PMO, all of the guys and all of the girls, it humbles me to know that I’ve been a part of a group that has such a rich history; a group that his truly enhanced my college experience. I’ve met some of my closest friends through PMO. Hell, I get to be the best man in a wedding because of a friendship fostered through Glee Club. Sometimes I just sit there and think about how lucky I am to perform with 50 guys who I can legitimately call my brothers. I know we kind of throw that around sometimes, but especially this weekend I feel like these guys are like my brothers, and I’m blessed to have that opportunity.

We do a wide range of music with the Glee Club, but we have a number of religious pieces that we mix in to each show. As Bill asked us to connect a memory or thought every moment, today’s shows really got me thinking about both of my grandmothers, both who have passed away.

We have a collection of songs we group together to form our “Hymn Medley.” The summer before I joined a member of the Glee Club, my mother’s mom (Nana) was very sick and eventually lost her battle with cancer. I had my thick folder full of Glee Club music and I was listening to my CDs all summer. As the signs began to point toward the inevitable for Nana, this song happened to play quite frequently on my iPod.

Ever since she passed away in 2007, I’ve always associated that song with her. The medley starts and ends with “Amazing Grace,” but some of the songs between the bookends have some really touching lyrics that always get me. There are two sings in particular that get me. The first is called “Fairest, Lord Jesus,” and the other is called “Nearer, My God, to Thee.” The way the cords are arranged behind the lyrics are absolutely beautiful, and there’s something about those two songs that really touch me and remind me of Nana. I swear one of these days tears will flow from my eyes on stage when we perform this song. Most times they get a little misty (I wonder if people can tell from the audience), but I’ve never had streaming tears…one day I bet.

Nana loved coming to watch me sing, and I really miss having her there. My mom would tell me as her time was passing away she would tell random people about me and how well I sing and how proud she was of me. I know she’s up there watching over me every show. She has to be proud of me now.

My other grandmother passed away this past October, and sometimes I can’t believe she’s gone either. I didn’t see Grandma Chance nearly as much as I saw Nana, but Grandma was influential in me being involved with music. In fact, I really have her to thank for laying my musical foundation. She had played the piano for a number of years, and as my brothers, sister and I were exposed to music all the time. My grandparents had a piano in their house all the time, and us being the intrigued little kids that we were, we wanted to play the piano too. She would tape the letters on each of the key and would write out songs with their letters. We’d have a sheet that would say, “C C D A G E…” and we would just look at the taped letter on the key and “play” a song.

My grandma used to be the accompanist at my high school and played for my old director, Mr. Morrison. Throughout high school he would tell me how talented she was as an accompanist. I never really got to see the full extent of her talent. She never really played too much for us, but I know she was very involved with the music at her church in Monticello. I really wish she could’ve passed on her piano playing abilities to me. She really laid the foundation for me musically, and for that I will always be thankful. Every time I step on stage and sing a note, I think about her. I miss her too.

She never got to see me perform too much, but there was always one Glee Club show she would go to. Every year she and my grandfather would come up to the show in Munster, and she was just so excited to see us perform. That’s probably what’s going to make this year’s performance in Munster so hard. If I don’t get into grad school and don’t come back to Glee Club next year, this will be my last performance at that show. It’ll be sad that it’s my final show up near home, but it’ll be more difficult after the show mingling with the audience and not having her there like she has been the past two years. I miss her too!

Well then…I just realized this posts goes from dominating Papa Johns to remembering my grandmothers. Guess I needed a good cry. I’ve definitely been on the emotional side here lately. It’s nice to write about them sometimes and put down in words the way I feel.

I should really try that more often with other relationships in my life. I’d like to think I have a way with words, and sometimes it helps to write things down. That’s what blogs are for, right Lisa?

Anyways, I’m sorry if you were looking for a quick update about the trip in Florida. Can you really expect a quick update from me? It’s a gift and a curse. 🙂

From sunny Florida to wherever you find yourself, I send you my best wishes. I thank you for taking the time to read what I have to say. It really does mean a lot to me to know that there are people out there who care to read what I have to write about. I really am truly thankful for all of you, and if I could, I’d hug every one of you!

Take care!