My friend and colleague talking about his WONDERFUL band in the manner that I prefer to use, as well... about the relationships between them and the things that will matter most to them all their years from now: their memories:
Very grateful for another great weekend with the Bassett High School Band. I am proud of the kids for their hard work and trust in the program. Even more importantly, I am humbled by the amount of pride taken by our parents, staff, and alumni. Our kids are LUCKY to have your support!
The hard part about teaching competitive marching band is that it is hard to not make everything about what is, in my opinion, the least important part of it: trophies and stuff. Words and phrases get mixed in and thrown around that just make the activity sound silly. I remember a group once referring to itself as a "threat"... to who? To what? What's the big deal? Don't get me wrong... I was young once, too. I taught the wrong message at Lackey my first 3 years. Bobby Jones fixed me of that. I just wish some of my friends and colleagues could talk about their bands the way Trey does. Some of these cats are looking for respect, I suppose. They would find the respect they desire, in my opinion, if they didn't concentrate on and teach their kids to be so focused so much on competition that nobody can stand to be around them... nobody wants to see how cool they are, because they are all the same kids at the end of the day. They are just taught to respect different things.
I am excited to be able to take my kids to Jefferson Forest High School for showday rehearsal on Nov. 5 for this EXACT reason. I can't wait for my kids to hang out with David Webb's kids. They are taught the same things: don't suck, for sure, but don't make this about the awards ceremony or the dag-gone trophies.
Further, let me talk about awards ceremonies:
Because it became apparent that a band sitting by us this weekend was made uncomfortable by it (though they did not say anything rude, but were simply asking each other within earshot of my kids why they were doing what they were doing), let me explain why the FMC doesn't cheer at awards.
As a rule, I have always had a problem with the fact that the loudest part of an awards ceremony is when they announce the 2nd place band, because that means the band that won 1st place is cheering as well as the 2nd place band, and 9 times out of 10 MUCH louder. That, to me, is in bad form. You're essentially cheering your rivals' loss, and if that is the message you want out there, then that's you. But it's not me. And I don't want my kids or my band parents thinking that a week's worth of work is "wasted" because of a placement. So regardless of where the FMC finishes, they give the exact same response. They are respectfully quiet for all bands, and that includes for themselves. When their Class is called, the Field Lieutenants put them at Parade Rest. When their name is called the Field Lieutenants call them to attention and the band responds with a crisp "PA", which they say EVERY time they're called to attention.
Why this bugs people, I don't know. If it's not your band, if it's not your kids: shut up about it and pay attention to yourselves. Same with my Drum Majors' and Field Captains' march. I know they're slower than everyone else... it's not your problem. People can say they're "slowing everything down", but I've GOT to ask: is the awards ceremony on some kind of stopwatch? I mean, we've been through some LONG awards ceremonies. The 15 extra seconds it took my kids to go EXACTLY to their spot instead of having to march around and find it, all while looking like a style of marching that I don't want my Drum Majors to look (namely: like everyone else) is NOT going to effect that ceremony, apparently it will only affect your feelings. To that I say: mind your business. Concentrate on your OWN kids, and make sure they're having a good time. If you want to celebrate ALL the kids, then do that. But don't put them down.
My guys have been called "elitist" over the years for their manner at awards. Blows my mind. I call it "respectful" and "professional".
I have also been asked by parents over the years why I personally don't cheer at awards ceremonies and "recognize the kids' hard work." Well, honestly, I have been teaching 20 years as a high school band director and I know that SO. MANY. different factors go into those awards that the kids do NOT control, I honestly just don't give that much of a hoot. I DO, in fact, recognize the kids' hard work... after every rehearsal in Circle. Those times are FAR more important to me than what someone else thinks my kids have done... I've seen what they've done. I've been there. I taught them. You can't represent that with a "Yay! You won a prize! Now you are worthwhile!" at an awards ceremony. It just, I don't know: cheapens it. Plus, man... we've won LOTS of stuff. LOTS of it. I suppose the first couple of times the band was declared Grand Champion at something I was impressed... now I'm like "I wonder if we should have found a show with better competition... I don't want my kids to think that they have arrived at Nirvana... I want to KEEP. PUSHING. !" That is NOT a knock on the wonderful bands hosting or the excellent judges judging... it's just the culmination of 20 years worth of experience at awards ceremonies.
And why the heck don't we do full retreat anymore?!?! THOSE are amazing experiences at awards ceremonies!!! ;-)