— Among the dozens of giant balloons, floats and bands and hundreds of marchers set to take to the streets of New York City on Thanksgiving morning, there will be one music teacher from
Lac qui Parle Valley Public Schools
marching along with them.
Nichole Markworth, who currently teaches elementary and middle school music in the western Minnesota school district, was chosen as one of 400 band directors across the country to take part in the Band Directors Marching Band, which will be making its Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade debut on Nov. 23.
"I was shocked. I was humbled," Markworth said. "I was like 'no way.'"
The marching band is part of the
Saluting America's Band Directors
project, established in 2017 by the Michael D. Sewell Memorial Foundation to recognize the work and accomplishments of band directors to spread the love of music to musicians of all ages. Markworth said she heard about the marching band opportunity from a Facebook group and decided to apply. She applied last November and got the email she had been chosen in April.
During the parade Markworth will be playing the trumpet, an instrument she started seriously playing around eight years ago, though she learned to play it in college. She started focusing on the trumpet when she needed an instrument she could play with the high school pep band at Lac qui Parle Valley.
"As a music teacher, you learn to play all the instruments," Markworth said, who started playing the flute in the fifth grade. She also learned how to play the saxophone and piano before she was in college.
Over the last several months, Markworth has been learning to play the music the band will be performing not only during the parade, but also at a special performance at the Sept. 11 Memorial. The first time the band will actually rehearse together is Nov. 19. Because all the musicians are professionals, Markworth said it shouldn't be too challenging for the band to meld together.
"Everybody knows we need to know our individual parts so we can come together and sound good right away," Markworth said.
While in New York, Markworth will also be able to take in some of the sights, including a performance of the famous Radio City Rockettes, a couple of Broadway shows and a boat cruise.
This is actually the second time Markworth has found herself playing in a marching band at a national event. Her college band from Northern State University marched in the parade for President Barack Obama's second inauguration in 2013. Markworth expects this parade will be just as exciting.
"This is another one-in-a-lifetime experience," Markworth said.
Another life experience Markworth has had is with teaching and music. She said she always knew she wanted to be a teacher and it was after falling in love with music that she decided to join the two together.
"Music has a way of soothing," Markworth said. "I knew I wanted to put my passion toward something that could instill that in kids also."
Music, especially in schools, can be a refuge and somewhere all students can find their place. Markworth wants to light that fire for students with the hope it will continue to burn their entire lives. Markworth first taught band at Lac qui Parle Valley for eight years and is now in her second year teaching both elementary and middle school music.
Music is one of the rare activities a person can continue to do and enjoy no matter how old they get. It is that encouragement and teaching that Saluting America's Band Directors is trying to shine a light on with its marching band.
"Everybody has music inside of them; we just have to find a way to encourage and get it out," Markworth said.
As the parade gets closer, Markworth's students are getting even more excited, as is she.
"It is getting more and more real," Markworth said.
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
is broadcast live on NBC or streams on Peacock starting at 8:30 a.m. Nov. 23.