Carson High band director to march in Rose Parade

Carson High School band director Nicolas Jacques will be marching with approximately 300 of America’s band directors in the Rose Parade on Jan. 1. (Photo: Jessica Garcia/Nevada Appeal)

Carson High School band director Nicolas Jacques will be marching with approximately 300 of America’s band directors in the Rose Parade on Jan. 1. (Photo: Jessica Garcia/Nevada Appeal)

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Carson High School teacher Nicolas Jacques will be one of four Nevadans to march among nearly 300 of America’s band directors in this year’s Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day.
The Saluting America’s Band Directors project for 2022, sponsored by the Michael D. Sewell Memorial Foundation based in Pickerington, Ohio, is honoring the contributions marching band directors have made in service to their schools and communities across the country by providing an entry in the Jan. 1 Rose Parade.
Jacques is Northern Nevada’s only band director selected to represent the Silver State for the 2022 parade, with three others attending from Las Vegas or Henderson.
Jacques originally applied for a spot in November 2019 after first learning about it through a Facebook group that initially encouraged students to participate and finally motivated directors to take part themselves.
“Since I never did it in high school, I decided to apply and was pleasantly surprised when I heard about a week later I was accepted,” he said.
His application was approved for 2021, but it would be a two-year wait since the 2020 Rose Parade was canceled due to COVID-19. Jacques and other candidates were invited to roll over to 2022, according to Sanford Meisel, who oversees marketing for the SABD project.
“Most of these band directors would never have a chance to march in the Rose Parade,” Meisel told the Appeal. “That is the pinnacle for them. If you have a band of 20 or 30 people, you would never be invited. That is just too small. A lot of them are very rural.”
But with the event set for Jan. 1, approximately 270 marching band directors will walk the 5-and-a-half-mile route down Pasadena’s Colorado Boulevard.
The SABD entry’s theme this year is “America’s Band Directors: We teach music. We teach life.” The project will be the first known marching band in the Tournament of Roses in which all of its members are band directors and for which its entry will consist of a float and a marching band.
Members will be led by Ohio’s Heidelberg University band director Jon Waters. Music will include a special arrangement of Meredith Willson’s “Seventy-Six Trombones” by Lisa Galvin called “Salute to America’s Music Makers,” “The Stars and Stripes Forever” by John Philip Sousa, “Strike Up the Band” by George Gershwin and “Sing, Sing, Sing” by Louis Prima.
Jacques has been preparing and only recently revealed to his students that he was planning to appear in the parade to keep their focus on their responsibilities at school.
“I’ve been pretty fast with memorizing the music,” Jacques said. “I like the music. It’s fun, traditional jazz that they put together in one, and it’s music that I enjoy.”
Jacques said he will play his trombone, offering an instrument that would “fit in with the needs with the marching band.”
Band directors were chosen by a committee who based their criteria on experience, Meisel said.
“You can’t audition that many people and when they’re all over the country,” he said. “We based it on an assumption, if you’re a band director and you’ve been doing it for a 40- or 50-year career, that you’re going to be able to play an instrument and walk 5-and-a-half miles doing so.”
Due to some movement because of the pandemic, the various band directors come from 48 states and range in age and experience. Some have been out of college for only a few years or some have retired, Meisel said. Others travel across state lines for work on a daily basis.
Generally, the applicants average more than 16 years of music teaching experience. Among the group, eight are Grammy Music Educator of the Year nominees and 76 are teacher of the year finalists, including Jacques, on local, district, state or national levels.
The band directors are scheduled to arrive in Pasadena on Wednesday to take part in rehearsals with the band. Jacques said he most looks forward to meeting the other directors and learning what happens to bring the event together.
“As much as you’d expect me to say ‘the parade,’ it’s really the process – getting behind the scenes, seeing the float, seeing the rehearsals – I’m really excited about that,” Jacques said.
COVID-19 did create some cancellations for some applicants, Meisel said, and within the past 60 days, new applications were submitted. Some difficulties were created in collecting uniform sizes for newer applicants, he said. The SABD project wanted to create consistency in its look for its members who will be marching. Participants are receiving, free of charge, blazers with a patch, with marchers paying for shipping on their pants.
The Band Directors Marching Band members will begin rehearsing on Wednesday at Pierce College, with practices continuing at Arcadia High School and providing a performance at Robinson Stadium’s Band Fest on Dec. 30 in Pasadena. The band performs in the Rose Parade beginning at 8 a.m. on New Year’s Day.
Meisel alluded to the impact band directors and educators have on their communities all over the country. He spoke of a recent Texas community’s recognition of Andrews High School band director Darin Johns, who died in a bus accident in November while the school’s football team traveled to Sweetwater with the band scheduled to perform at a playoff game.
Meisel said his own son was an average student who was changed by joining a marching band program in high school and played the saxophone. Despite some challenges, his son marched in the Rose Parade himself and met his wife in his program.
“He found a niche for himself, he became president of the band, went on various trips, got into college at Ohio State University … it was very competitive,” Meisel said. “It’s one of those romantic things. Today, he’s a band director and teaches in middle school.”
Jacques also chose to recognize someone who shaped his music career and was given the option to purchase a rose to place on the float.
“I chose my high school jazz band teacher, Chuck Wackerman, and I have his name and a personal message of thanks on the float,” he said.
Jacques has taught and hosted music camps at Carson Middle School. He earned National Board Certification in 2018. In October 2019, Jacques was named one of two Nevada recipients of the Milken Educator Awards and was presented with an unrestricted cash prize of $25,000. He became band director of Carson High’s Blue Thunder marching band program in August 2020. He also directs the Capital City Community Band in Carson City.
Most recently, the CHS Blue Thunder placed first performing this past season’s “Colors” show and was named the Northern Nevada Division 1-A state champion in the Sierra Band Crusade at the University of Nevada, Reno. Jacques said this achievement has not occurred for CHS since 2005.
The selections and collaborations to date while preparing for the Rose Parade have been positive online, according to Jacques, who said music teachers or directors often work in isolation. He also hopes to bring back what he learns to his students to the classroom when he returns to Carson City.
“It’s just another perspective of what it takes to be a successful band by going through the process of the Rose Parade along with being with some of the best educators in the area firsthand and really sharing more of that with my students,” he said.


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