I am normally very skeptical of student involvement in such time consuming activities. Many groups, including [other musical ensembles], are guilty of pushing their members to the point of slipping grades and class absences. After speaking with [these three students], I would like to thank you for putting in place a system that encourages well-rounded excellence, both academically and in your band.
(PS. You will also be glad to know that [your students] promptly proceeded to invite me to their performance on the 15th!)"
This note brought a smile to my face not simply because it demonstrates how these three first-year students have done what we’ve hoped and stayed true to their academic commitments, but more-so because it reminds me of my own college experiences. Joining a nationally renowned band program, time commitments were precisely that: commitments. We rehearsed 4:40-6:15 pm Monday through Friday, traveled overnight Friday, and performed at various events all weekend, every weekend. Conflicts didn’t exist; You were either in band, or you were not in band. This high-demand on our time taught us how to study properly, how to prioritize time, and how to live a balanced life. This being the case, during my time in college, the average GPA of Band Members was 0.13 higher than that of non-members, and there were zero incidents of Band Members being arrested, suspended, or academically disciplined. This is a comparison that holds just as true at Holy Cross as it did at my alma mater: At Holy Cross in 2011, the average GPA of Freshman Band Members was 0.18 higher than that of Freshman non-members, there were zero incidents of discipline involving Band Members, and the College’s retention rate for students involved in the Band Program was 100%, in comparison to the 95% campus-wide retention rate.
To quote a band parent who had a large influence on my life, “It’s a little bit about music. It’s a lot about life.” We aim to provide your student with the greatest possible experience while they are at Holy Cross, and these experiences won’t always be musical. Band will be difficult at times. Band will test your child’s ability to prioritize responsibilities. Band will have a lasting, positive influence on your child, and will put into practice skills which would otherwise lie theoretical until years later.
Building off of the enthusiasm our Band Parents brought to the “Goodtime” program last year, we are taking steps to make sure our Band Parents are a more “included” part of what we do. Occasional newsletters highlighting recent achievements and interviews with your children, announcement of upcoming performances throughout the Northeast and where you can see the Band, providing “Band Parent” apparel, giving you a chance to connect with other Band Parents, etc… all of this intended to make sure that YOU have the opportunity to be as involved as you wish in an activity that means so much to your son or daughter.
Thank you again for trusting us with your children. Without your faith and support, the “Goodtime” Band would simply not exist.
Nicholas J. McKenzie, Director
College of the Holy Cross “Goodtime” Marching Band
Nicholas J. McKenzie graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2008. While at UMass, he had the privilege of studying under three of the foremost names in the field of marching arts: Michael Klesch (brass arranger: Cadets, Crossmen, Carolina Crown, CT Hurricanes), Thomas P. Hannum (percussion arranger: Cadets, Star of Indiana, Blast & Blast 2: Shockwave), and George N. Parks (founder of Drum Major Academy, World Drum Corps Hall of Fame member).
Mr. McKenzie was an active participant in the Minuteman Marching Band (1998 Sudler Trophy recipient), and served as a member of the Minuteman Band's Administrative Staff.
Mr. McKenzie is an alumnus of the World-Champion Reading Buccaneers Drum & Bugle Corps, as well as the East Coast Jazz Drum & Bugle Corps.