Wally Shaw, the band director at Houston County High School, is entering his 32nd year as a band director, but when he talks about the upcoming year, he is as excited as if it is his first year.
Houston Countys Black and Silver Brigade Marching Band is planning at least two competition trips this year and an appearance in the St. Patricks Day parade in New York City, along with their performances at the football games.
Shaw tries to take his band students on major trips every other year. Two years ago, they performed in Chicago at the Thanksgiving Day parade. To prepare, the band is raising money and working on an arrangement of Danny Boy to play as they march. The trip will include a dinner cruise on the Hudson River and a Broadway musical.
After 22 years at the school, Shaw has seen plenty of changes, including the location of his own band practice field several times. But right now, the band is practicing in what Shaw considers a premier spot near Perdue Elementary School.
Since we are already practicing when Perdue gets out of school, we have an audience every day, Shaw said. It is really awesome, because it makes the kids want to work that much harder.
Working hard in the band is a tradition for the Houston County High band. For the past 21 years, every year the school has been open, they have received straight superior ratings at district concert band festival.
We have full intentions of doing it again this year, Shaw said. I get great kids from the middle school and kids that work hard. There is also the factor that no one wants to be the first ones not to get it.
Shaw, who was named Georgia Music Educator of the Year in 2010, believes in the educational aspects and benefits of the band program.
We are not out to develop a whole bunch of music educators or professional musicians, he said. We want to prepare them for life. Band helps to do that.
Shaw said that research shows that students that participate in fine arts score higher on standardized tests.
I have had some band directors out of this program. But I have had more doctors and lawyers. We want them to be able to go out and function and lead happy lives.
Contact Alline Kent at 396-2467 or firstname.lastname@example.org.