Every year in March, the Ohio Music Education Association hosts the Large Group Adjudicated Event for high school bands and every year for the past twenty-five years I have taken one or more groups to perform. It is a huge undertaking to prepare bands for an event like this (therefore the associated high levels of band director stress and anxiety) and then the overwhelming sense of accomplishment when it is done.
Something I love about teaching and directing ensembles is the opportunity to place quality music in front of students and let them study, practice, and grow from the challenges and the joy the music provides. When students take a printed page of music and turn it into a work of art, there is something transformational happening on multitudes of levels. It reaches deeply into our hearts and minds. And every so often comes that magical moment when all of us who were on the stage and in that moment, know we will never forget. That is the power of music.
But really, why go through the work, stress, and anxiety of preparing for a judged event? In part, it engages students in an extended period of preparation time that requires excellence in what they do. Applying these lessons to other things, they can begin to see excellence not as singular acts, but as a lifestyle. The concert season is the rock upon which a quality high school band program is built.
Beyond all else, take a look at the expressions on the faces of those seniors in the picture. And on the faces of many other students when their accomplishments are affirmed by others as something great, and special, and inspiring. I love our time together sharing the challenges that a quality piece of music brings. And I hope that they love it too. Memories of those magical moments with their band family will last a lifetime.