Contributed by Orrin Cross
In 1973 I came to a school with no music program, little District money and no parental support. We had some old instruments. I approached this problem by making the music students visible to everyone. I advertised that we would have a marching band and march at football games. The first year I had some students marching who didn’t play an instrument, using rag-a-tag old uniforms and musical instruments, many of which barely worked. I opened the band room doors before school, at lunch, and after school, even finding some old athletic lockers we put in the band room. This was the place for my students. It was home away from home – a safe haven and our “special place.” I ended up 35 in the marching band that first year. They received publicity in the local newspaper, acknowledgement by the student body, and support from parents and the school board. That was 38 years ago. Each year the program grew: adding a jazz band, symphonic band, wind ensemble, and many other ensembles. That program now has 3 concert type bands, two jazz bands, and a marching band of over 200. That band has played at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, in London, and this year in Rome. Needless to say they have the full support of the community, school board, parents, and the school.
It is OK to start small, make it matter to the students, and watch it grow. It’s worth it.