Carson High band director marches in Rose Parade

Carson High band director Nicolas Jacques in front of the Rose Bowl for the 2022 Rose Parade.

Carson High band director Nicolas Jacques in front of the Rose Bowl for the 2022 Rose Parade.

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Carson High School band director Nicolas Jacques was among one of the first faces visible as the Band Directors Marching Band appeared Jan. 1 on KTLA Channel 5 for the Rose Parade. The float he and 270 of the nation’s band directors marched with were making history for the Saluting America’s Band Directors in three minutes of airtime.
For Jacques, the few days in Southern California among fellow music educators was “life-changing.”
Northern Nevada’s Blue Thunder director traveled last week to Pasadena, Calif., to participate in the Tournament of Roses as part of the Saluting America’s Band Directors project. He took his trombone and met up with other musicians and band directors from 48 other states and a few from outside the United States to march the 5.5-mile route in California.
Jacques described his first morning as a blur, arriving in pouring rain, music memorized and quickly adapting after the band had to move indoors to a convention meeting room for rehearsals.
“That was the real feeling we got, after all the chaos we played music and it was just automatic, just as we do with our students,” Jacques said. “Jon Waters was (directing) 270 of us, and we had to be extremely focused.”
Jacques said with Waters, experienced at the college level at the helm, he came away with new ideas for leading his own program at Carson High School.
He also credited the physical challenge of making the march and keeping up with the “loop” through the final push up the final mile toward Victory Park, where the marchers enjoyed free food provided by In-N-Out after their long walk.
Having reported originally at 4:30 a.m. in the first place, Jacques joked the whole march “kept going and going and going.”
“Thank goodness for my skiing and my teaching marching band here and my legwork and lips to make it all the way through here,” he said.
He was very impressed by the entire event’s organization and thankful for the support of families and friends who attended in the grandstands or watched in the rain in the BandFest in the days leading up to the Rose Parade, where adjustments also had to be made last minute.
“All our family and friends were at Pasadena City College, three and a half miles into the parade,” he said. “We had already marched two Nevada Day parades before we even got to our grandstands and to our people, as I like to say.”
To honor someone who influenced his career and love of music, Jacques had an opportunity to place a flower on the parade float in honor of Chuck Wackerman, his band director who guided his appreciation for jazz throughout his middle school and high school years as a student. Wackerman took Jacques and his classmates to the Reno Jazz Festival every year.
“He showed me music is a way to make a lifelong difference in students’ lives while doing something that feels like a hobby that you get paid to do,” he said.
In the end, taking part in the Rose Parade was a reinvigorating experience for his educational career, he said.
“Even though during COVID we all felt pretty isolated, we are still a family in our music world and I’m taking that and sharing with my kids as much as possible, and we are relearning how to do school and we are rediscovering the fact that last year is not a habit,” Jacques said.
“I’m doing my best to help my kids break the habit of putting school on the backburner and making school a happy place again, a comfortable place, a safe place.”


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