Key West, Florida is known for it’s warm climate and laid back atmosphere, with high volumes of tourists visiting year round to escape their fast paced lives. Many people refer to this kind of destination as their paradise. (I wouldn't mind checking it out for a month or so one year. I have had numerous friends visit, including one who called her husband after one day to tell him that they WOULD retire there. Soon.).

The one catch to traveling to Key West is that flights can be difficult to find, and when you do find them they can drain your wallet. Also, landing in Key West is somewhat like landing on a postage stamp, which can be a bit disconcerting for those who are a little leery of the flying experience. 

Driving there has it’s own challenges, and the biggest is the final stretch before you reach your destination:  The Seven Mile Bridge

<At this stage of the blog entry there may be a few wondering why in the world I’m rambling on about a man made structure over a water mass. Stay tuned.>

It’s seven miles of no exits, short guard rails, and nothing but the Gulf of Mexico on either side of you. Run out of gas? You’re definitely out of luck. Blow a tire? That could get you closer to a shark than at the Newport Aquarium. 

If you’re taking this drive you might get frustrated at the drivers around you, who may be going a different speed or are in what you think is the wrong lane. You have no idea what is going on in their car, but you know that they are in your way. With all this and a 40 foot drop to the ocean one lane to your right, you white knuckle it the entire way across this enormous bridge. With all this frustration, anxiety, and danger you start to wonder why you took the trip in the first place, and might even wonder aloud if getting to this place is going to be worth it.

But then you see what might be civilization just ahead and sure enough, the end of the bridge and Key West are just over the horizon. 

Paradise.

If you’ve been there before you start to remember why you made the effort, and all those awesome memories come flooding back. If you’ve never been there you start seeing things that invigorate your senses and excite you like never before, and you drink in every last detail, making plans for your return trip as soon as possible. 

How does this relate to band? 

We are preparing for 3 different 25 minute performances with our jazz band, concert band and wind ensemble right now. We have a concert, large group contest, and a jazz festival in the next 7 days. The preparation at times has been arduous, frustrating, and even scary (see, Part Tests). Sometimes the preparation gets so difficult we wonder why we even agreed to do it in the first place. There are people around us who are on the path to the same destination…and though their route is similar to ours they seem to be taking a much different approach to get there, and sometimes that gets us on edge. 

However, at the end of this long musical journey there’s a destination, and it’s awesome. Many of us have been there a few times before, and we want to go back. The pride, emotions, and sounds that accompanied us at that destination were things that will be with us forever, and being able to do that again would be amazing.I know that we can get there.

However, just like going across that bridge to Key West it's a long ride. It's going to take energy and time that others spend on the couch or watching television.  We might have to put aside things that others do to make it happen. The journey is going to be difficult at times and a bumpy ride occasionally.

But believe me-a musical paradise awaits. Come along for the ride.