Writing Center
Spring 2006 Edition

525,600 Minutes - Measuring a Year

Brandon Dixon
Expressive 1010 1st Place

I can remember standing outside my hotel room in Branson, Missouri; I was filled with excitement.  I was so proud that our competition team had made it that far.  As we loaded the bus to compete in the Branson World Championship Show Choir Cup, we could almost taste the anticipation. We were all members of the Spanish Fork High School Ambassadors, a show choir.  Matching warm-ups were the attire when leaving for the competition. This was my personal favorite costume of the show. The warm-ups were black and sleek in design. White pin stripes ran down the sides of the jacket and pant with my name embroidered in bright red cursive lettering on the front. The warm-ups made our choir look distinct and professional. Our warm-ups united us, and together we were unbeatable.

The bus rattled into the parking lot of the Branson Theatre. It was here we were to compete. We started routinely into our stretches and vocal warm ups along with the 30 other singing groups from all over the country.  I wasn’t the only one who was eager and ready for competition; the energy seemed to run through the whole choir. As the time grew near for us to perform, we made our way into the theatre.  When entering, we all knew that soon we were to perform. There were no more fun and games. This competition was real; we needed to get it right. 
Finally the time came and the choir made its way onto the stage. We placed ourselves into starting position, and waited for our group to be announced.  The feelings of joy and anticipation were gone and were replaced with ones of nervousness and fear.  As the beam of the bright hot lights began to shine upon us, it was just like an early morning sun peaking through the mountains.  It was time to perform; this is what I and the rest of the Ambassadors had been fervently waiting for over the last ten months.   

The music was cued, and we started the energetic show.  Every number was filled with song and dance.  I was having a blast; it was unforgettably one of the best performances I had ever participated in up to that point.  We had given our best efforts.  Our choreography was together; our voices blended perfectly.  It was an amazing show.  All of the practicing, long rehearsals, and extra training was finally paying off.  The crowd was generous in their applause after each number.  Their encouragement was like fuel generating us all to perform better than we ever had before. The final song came and went, and before I knew it, I was back on the bus with the rest of the Ambassadors headed for our hotel.  It had been an exhausting day. As we drove back to the hotel, our director, Rick Lunt, a tall, charismatic man, who always seemed to have a mischievous smile on his face, informed us we had made it to the semi-finals.  Everyone was ecstatic and the joy could not be contained. For the rest of the ride back to the hotel everyone had a permanent smile plastered on his or her face. The judgments were based on musical selection, choreography, originality, and singing ability. Out of the 30 groups who were participating in the competition only 10 made it into the semi-finals and we were one of them. 

Day two arrived quicker than anticipated.  Although, I was excited for the day’s activities, the night did not seem long enough for my tired aching body. I again dressed in my favorite black warm ups.  They gave me the energy and stamina that I needed for the competition.  With my warm-ups, I was ready for the long day ahead.  A new day of competition had begun.  The Ambassadors loaded onto our chartered bus and headed back to the Branson Theatre for the semi-finals.  I was thrilled to be back and as I looked around, so was everyone else.   It almost seemed unreal that we, the Spanish Fork High School Ambassadors, had made it to the semi-finals.  So many of the other groups were simply amazing and I did not think that we had a chance. In preparing for our semi-final performance, we as a team were more focused and united than the day before.  We knew what needed to be fixed, and we were determined to make it right.  We warmed up longer; we practiced our routine harder; we were determined to win.

We made our way onto the stage.  The announcer’s voice boomed over the crisp speakers, “Now presenting from Spanish Fork, Utah, the Spanish Fork High School Ambassadors!”  The applause was raging as the deep red curtains drew back.  The Ambassador band started to play the ever-so-familiar music; the show, our show “Love in Any Language” had begun.  The time we spent on stage seemed to fly by.  Song after song, we sang and danced with more drive and determination than ever. Before I knew it, the moment had already come and the sweet words of the final song, “Seasons of Love” flowed out of my mouth.  While presenting all of our hard-work on the giant black stage, I began to see the audience’s eyes swelling with tears.  Why would this be?  This was supposed to be a fun competition.  This competition was all about winning and being the best.  I had been practicing for the last ten months for this competition.  How could it be that people were crying?

The song ended; we bowed and quickly left the stage.  It turned out the people in the audience weren’t the only people crying. Looking at my team members, many of them also had tear filled eyes. Driving back to the hotel Mr. Lunt gave us another pep-talk to tell us how well we did, but also things that we could improve on.  As we continued to drive back to the hotel to get ready for finals, I sat pondering to myself what I had seen earlier in the performance. I began to wonder, “Was there more to this competition than being good and winning?  Was there something more to the Ambassadors that I didn’t know about?”  I began to think there was more meaning to the warm ups, up-beat music, and catchy songs than I could not understand quite yet.  These thoughts remained with me as I got ready for the final competition.

That morning turned into afternoon, and afternoon turned into evening.  The time for finals was approaching ever so quickly.  As I made my way into the historical theatre with the rest of the Ambassadors, I again began to ponder.  “Was that what this competition was all about-winning?”  My mind was cluttered with thought.  So many questions racked my mind.  We sat in a large musty room, waiting for just one more group before our time to compete.  The Ambassador Presidency told of memories they had throughout the year.  In those final moments before the final competition, we laughed of great times and cried over the good memories and hardships that we had during the last ten months we had been working on our show.  The time came and it was time to perform for the last time. We were again on the giant Branson Theatre stage.  The lights began to rise; it was our time to shine.  The songs came and went, and we performed like we never had before.  Our words were crisp and precise.  The emotion ran through our bodies like a sudden surge of electricity had just entered.  We danced like never before, every move articulating perfectly with each beat.  This final time on the Branson stage, the songs seemed very different.  The words that we had sung so many times before started to have meaning; each song had a unique and different message that we were able to share.  My black warm-ups had a new meaning.  They were what allowed me to have the emotion and the strength to share the wonderful message of love.

As the music to our final song “Seasons of Love” was cued, I began to sing these words:  

“Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes!
How do you measure, measure a year? 
It's time now to sing out, tho' the story never ends.
 Let's celebrate, remember a year in the life of friends. 
Remember the love!
Seasons of love! 
Share love, give love, spread love. 
Measure your life in love.”

As I sang those words, I along with all the Ambassadors and audience members were crying.  It was then I realized what this competition was all about.  It wasn’t about winning, the upbeat songs, or the singing and dancing.  It was about the message that we shared.  It was all about the message of Love. 

I had come to a point in my life where I really knew what was important.  I have now come to realize that my friends and the memories we had created together are so much more important than winning could ever be.  The lives of the people that we touched mean more to me than winning.  We didn’t win the competition that day.  Looking back, I do not remember who won that day, and nor do I care.  The lasting feelings that were created that day, and throughout the many wonderful months I was able to work with the Ambassadors will never be forgotten.  The memories I have will be with me my whole life through and that means the world to me.  I can now celebrate and remember a year in the life of friends, remembering the love, the many seasons of love.   My black warm up suit will be my greatest reminder of these great memories; the memories that will always bring a smile to my face and warmth to my heart.