Our school is trying to build up it’s marching band program. Actually, our terrific band directors Jill Ryan and Deb Lippa are trying to do that with the support of their department leader, Robin Smith. These are an energetic trio and I wouldn’t trade them for any other music teachers in the country.
I’m struggling a bit with one aspect of the transition. Our band directors began last school year. Previously our long standing band director was very laid back with our students, as many didn’t attend lessons and his expectations were just different from mine. We had a lot of complaints from the community, students and parents about our poor performances.
Jill started with very high expectations for students and most important, for herself. She has the drive and the desire to take our music students to another level. That’s exactly what we were looking for and what I thought our students really wanted. But now we’re experiencing some growing pains where students don’t all want a more rigorous program and several key members have dropped. This has been bothering me, sort of that, “geez, nothing we do makes these people happy feeling.”
But then there we were at a parade today on the Seneca Nation territory, which is partially in our school district. This is a parade our school hasn’t marched in before and one that we should be in–Jill easily agreed to give it a go. Four days into school and she’s got about 30 students showing up on a Saturday morning, in the pouring rain, to march in a parade. Our students looked terrific, they played the best they knew how with only four days in, and some even stepped into positions they’d never assumed before. And there was our band director, right next to them, smiling and directing and just making us look great.
Made me realize again we’ve got to keep moving forward, keep raising our expectations, keep showing our kids that we believe in them and think they are so much more than some have been shown before. Yep, I was proud to be there with Jill and our students today. We may not have been the best marching band around, but we were the best we could be at that moment, on this beautiful day. And for those who aren’t coming along with us, I say “SOOO LONG”.