Monday, October 10, 2016

WHY Are We Doing This Thing Called "Marching Band"?
by Jeremy Ford

Those of us who teach or assist with marching bands are just getting to the point where we can see the "light at the end of the tunnel". Maybe you've got just a couple sets left to put on, or you've been cleaning drill for a week already...but ALL of us see November creeping up on the calendar at this point. The question I've been asking myself the past few years is...WHY are we doing this thing called "marching band"? Is it good for the students? For music education?

I think the answer to those questions depends on the goals of the band director. I would like to take this opportunity to ask each and every music educator whether or not you have a specific, attainable goal (mission statement) for your students, your program, and yourself. I have found that it is far to easy to just move from rehearsal to rehearsal, ball game to ball game, to marching contests then playoffs, the list seems endless...without actually accomplishing the goals that are really important to us for our students.

So, my challenge to you today is to name the goal you have for your students and pursue it THROUGH all of the activities of marching band (and concert band for that matter). For my program, the goal my students and staff is simple: We are teaching young people to do something very difficult to the best of their ability, with the development of outstanding individual musicianship being the highest priority.

With this goal or "mission statement" guiding my decision-making, questions of music selection, difficulty of drill, my attitude toward winning or losing...everything becomes clearer for me, and I can climb back "on the ladder" and teach the 80th set of drill without complaining TOO much. So if your goal is winning a specific marching contest, growing the band to healthier numbers, or having more All-Region or All-State musicians this year, set it in stone and work toward that goal instead of working through the next "event". I've found this approach allows me to see the "light at the end of the tunnel" much sooner.

Best wishes to all on a great year! - Jeremy

Jeremy Ford
Director of Bands
Springdale Har-Ber High School, Springdale, Arkansas

Jeremy R. Ford is a 1997 graduate of the University of Arkansas, where he earned his Bachelor's Degree in Music Education. Mr. Ford is currently the Director of Bands at Springdale Har-Ber High School in Springdale, Arkansas, a position he has held since the school first opened its doors in 2005. Mr. Ford was the Associate Director of Bands for Springdale Schools in 2004, Director of Bands at Sallisaw Public Schools in Sallisaw, Oklahoma from 1998 until 2004, and Jr. High Band Director in Farmington, Arkansas in 1997. Mr. Ford's bands have received consistent Superior ratings, Sweepstakes Awards, and 1st place designations over these years, both in marching band and in concert band festivals and competitions. In 2011, the Har-Ber High School Wind Symphony performed at the prestigious Midwest Clinic and, in so doing, became only the second Arkansas high school band to perform at the world's largest international gathering of band and orchestra conductors. He currently resides in Springdale, Arkansas with his wife, Amanda, and sons Drake, Hayden, and Pierce.


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