I’m not sure exactly where the “geek” stereotype for band students originates, all I know is that for most of the band students I know, it’s false. They are strong athletes representing most sports programs, high academic achievers and leaders in the school.
If you have a teenager, you know that you only receive a minuscule amount of information about what’s happening at school or what your teen may achieving that isn’t showing up on a report card or being demonstrated on the field or in the auditorium. This was the case with a band concert my daughter performed in last night.
At breakfast we were informed that she’d be spending a majority of the day in Genoa for a “band thing” and there would be a concert afterward. I was assuming this “band thing” included the whole band program or at least the Symphonic Band of Winnebago High School. I was wrong; turns out this “band thing” was the Big Northern Music Festival. Band directors in the Big Northern Conference were asked to nominate 10% of their bands to participate in the Conference Honor Band. Winnebago High School sent 19 young musicians.
You’ve seen all the studies about the positive impact band and music have on a student’s academic achievement and future life successes, how it increases math and verbal scores, results in higher SAT/ACT scores and keeps kids out of trouble. I have seen the information coming out of these studies at work and I’m so happy my kids participate in one of the best music programs in northern Illinois.
Led by Ms. Phyllis Hogberg, the Winnebago Band Program has been a lifesaver to many kids in the district. Her strong leadership, consistency and ability to bond and lead the kids is demonstrated by the fact that about 40% of the student body participates in one of the bands offered. That’s an amazing number when you consider the stereotype that often gets applied to band kids. You know they are having fun and enjoying the work if 220 teenagers are voluntarily signing up and staying year after year.
Imagine bringing a large group of young musicians from four counties together, giving them four hours to review five difficult pieces of music, then asking them to perform for an auditorium full of people. My ears hurt just thinking about it! But that’s what happened last night. I was amazed that up to 15 schools had as many as 20 kids representing them and after only four hours they sounded as though they’d been playing together all year! Part of that success belongs to the conductor of the evening, NIU’s Dr. Ronnie Wooten; a majority of the success is a direct result of the work done by school band directors and the commitment of the musicians.
Congratulations to all the students in the Big Northern Conference who were selected to play in the Honor Band. You rocked!