I taught middle school band for 13 years in the Greater Houston Area, so music in the public schools is something that I believe changes the lives of the students who participate. My appreciation for what band, choir and orchestra directors do on a daily basis in the State of Texas runs deep. Music is in my blood. I began to play oboe when I was in the 5th grade and I was hooked! I knew I would be a band director one day. I competed in every competition and was even drum major my senior year. I love band.
As a new resident of Farwell, TX (population approximately 1,500), I was finally able to attend a high school football game. The stadium is practically across the street from my house and it was homecoming. Good times. The mums, the cheerleaders, the mascot…and the electricity in the air was contagious. My experience with Texas bands was with 4 and 5A schools, so a small, 2A band program is something very new and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. What I do know is that living in a “neighboring state” for the past 12 years made me appreciate the music programs in Texas more than ever. The standards and expectations in Texas are phenomenal.
When the visiting team came on the field at half-time, they looked sharp! Uniforms in place, marching fundamentals well displayed…and they were in tune! (Like I said…the past 12 years…). They did a fantastic job with their UIL program (and just hearing UIL over the loudspeaker was enough to make me happy). Then our Farwell band came on to the field. I still was not sure what to expect…there were only 37 kids on the field.
I was blown away. They did a fantastic job! 37 kids. That means no player could “hide” behind someone else and not play their part. Each person was indispensible and they rose to the challenge. I was so happy for these students and their director. You don’t need to have big numbers to be successful. Small town programs like Farwell prove it. Just because there are fewer doesn’t mean that quality should be lacking.
Next time you are at a high school football game, don’t tune out the kids performing at half-time. They are athletes in their own right. It takes quite a bit to play your instrument well, while marching and remembering where you need to be on the field. These kids practice their music so that they play the right notes and memorize their parts. They are using their minds and bodies in ways many cannot understand.
My deepest appreciation goes out to the band directors who “live” in their band halls during football season. Your work matters.
And for the band kids walking the halls of the school, you are phenomenal.