When you turn on the television to enjoy the traditional Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday, November 23, be on the lookout for a familiar face. One of the first marching bands taking to the streets will be the Band Directors Marching Band, featuring South Fayette’s own Ms. Eryn Carranza.
Marching with more than 400 peers from across North America, Ms. Carranza will be stepping her way through the streets of New York City – immediately following the Snoopy balloon – in the sousaphone section. Sousaphones, if you don’t know, are part of the tuba-family designed for marching bands. While Ms. Carranza is adept at most instruments, her primary instrument since childhood has been the tuba.
“It’s funny watching all of the band directors come together in this setting, because we’re all used to being in charge and, in this case, we’re not. Honestly, I enjoy being able to take the step back and just play,” said Ms. Carranza of the Saluting America’s Band Directors Project. The band will perform under the direction of Jon Waters, former director of marching and athletic bands at The Ohio State University, and current assistant professor of music and director of bands at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, Ms. Carranza’s alma mater. “This is an opportunity to represent so many amazing music educators from across the US and even right here in southwestern Pennsylvania. And, I get to share it with my students, and my own daughter who is in the band at South Fayette. I want them to see that you can dream big no matter your age. If you work hard, you can still achieve things you never thought you’d get to do.”
“I’m especially excited to participate because one of the biggest things I want my students to see is that you can continue to make music after school – the learning doesn’t stop,” she continued. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I’m sharing it with the kids I teach every single day. It’s fun for them to be involved and help me to prepare. They get to make sure I’m practicing just like I do with them.”
While in New York, the group of band directors has also been invited to perform “Taps,” “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and “Amazing Grace” on Monday, November 20, at the 9/11 Memorial. Their trip includes arriving on Sunday, November 19, lodging in Times Square, multiple extensive rehearsals, and a Thanksgiving Day that begins with loading the buses at 1:30 am.
This is the second time Ms. Carranza has performed with the Band Directors Marching Band. Their inaugural performance was at the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California, on January 1, 2022, at which point the group was approximately 300 directors strong and representative of all 50 US states, as well as Mexico and Canada. In order to participate, directors had to either apply or be nominated – both, in Ms. Carranza’s case, so she’s not sure which one actually ensured her acceptance.
Band directors from the Mt. Lebanon and Montour school districts also participated in Pasadena, and will be heading to New York with Ms. Carranza, along with four other directors from southwestern Pennsylvania.
Saluting America's Band Directors is a project of the Michael D. Sewell Memorial Foundation.