Catch the Dream – Build the Band: Part 3

Hillsboro part 3 main photoSummer 2011 proved to be a blur as time sped by so quickly, and we suddenly found ourselves on the cusp of the new school year. The new band room was nearly finished its transformation as we assembled new equipment, put finishing touches on fresh painting projects, and began planning for the school year. We knew, however, that the most important component of a successful band program was energetic, positive and motivated students. It was clear that two key things needed to happen - recruitment of current and future Hillsboro students to join the new band program and promotion/public awareness of the program in order to create emotional appeal and ultimately financial support.

It was important to Mr. Gish that the majority of new band students already be embedded in the culture of Hillsboro School. Due to our small enrollment coupled with new, expansive athletic opportunities, we knew that sharing students would be the key to our success. We wanted students who were the quarterback of the football team, captain of the dance team, shooting guard for the basketball team, and active leaders within the student council. We needed students who had the maturity and talent to juggle weekly golf matches and daily trumpet practice. If we could help these students “buy-in” to our philosophy before school started, the idea of joining the band would infiltrate the rest of the school climate in a short time.

In order to recruit the right students to our new organization, though, we needed to establish a “brand” for the band. This would help focus and clarify our mission, but also foster community awareness and “buy-in.” When dealing with middle school students, we knew that we also had to recruit their parents and create an expectation that “you join the band when you get to 6th grade.”

We designed a logo incorporating the dreamcatcher image as a bass drum head with six feathers attached by a string of beads. Each of the six feathers was assigned a vivid virtue that we felt would help define the qualities of an ideal Hillsboro band member. These virtue feathers would symbolize the following traits:

COMMUNITY
- The Hillsboro Band program will thrive because we support the students and parents who make it great.
- We will utilize community partners who value and support our mission.

EXCELLENCE
- Students, parents, and director maximize every opportunity to achieve excellence through hard work and consistent improvement.
- We will have excellent student musicians who are constantly improving their musicianship, thus improving the quality of our band program.

COMMITMENT
- Students attend all rehearsals (during and after school, if necessary).
- We follow through with promises and engagements.
- We remain focused on the goals of the individual musician and the entire band program.

INTEGRITY
- We display honesty and truthfulness in speech and actions.
- We uphold The Hillsboro Band Core Values in and out of the classroom (including trips, rehearsals, assemblies, etc.)

ESPRIT DE CORPS
- We exude a spirit of enthusiasm, devotion, and honor to the band program and its members, parents, and supporters.
- We positively contribute to the image of the band to our school, other families, and community members.

SEMPER MELIOR
- “Always Better”
- We display consistent, daily improvement in music, attitude, and behavior.
- We always seek to improve, no matter the endeavor.
- We encourage others to improve.

We had the finished logo made into a 5’ graphic image and affixed it to the wall at the entrance of the band room. We also had stickers made to cover the heads of an old concert bass drum, which we used as a traveling billboard at public events to stir interest. We received several donated instruments as a result, not to mention the heightened visibility and the mounting public awareness it brought to our mission. We were getting noticed and people began paying attention to what we were doing.

Our new branding efforts created a palpable “buzz” about the new band program in the Franklin community. Parents, students and community leaders were now interested and invested in our cause. But we needed one more final push before school began in early August. We wanted to create an opportunity where students and parents could meet each other and socialize, creating a sense of community within our organization. The annual Drum and Bugle Corps show in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, was the perfect event to inspire our new students. Ten of our new band students and their families enjoyed dinner and a night of fantastic drum corps in late July. It was the final spark that ignited the enthusiasm we needed to successfully establish the new band program at Hillsboro School. This was the tipping point.

August 11, 2011 was no ordinary first day of school. The newly re-established band program was welcoming its first group of students into the band room. There were “oooohs” and “aaaahs” from students and staff alike. There was a steady flow of traffic all day from people who wanted to see the transformation first-hand. But more importantly, there were children (52 children to be exact) who had bought-in to our vision and philosophy and filled the chairs we worked so hard to provide.

Our new school principal, Mrs. Kari Miller enthusiastically agreed to let new students join the band until the second week of school. During that time, we added six new faces to the program, bringing our grand total to 58 students, almost 20% of the middle school enrollment. They would be divided into four classes that met during the day, with class enrollment varying from 5 to 33 students. Their ability levels would also vary – some with limited playing experience, but most having no prior musical skills at all.

Was the stage being set for a “Cinderella story?” Time would only tell, but we felt we were in a good place.

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