While enjoying today’s broadcast of the 2013 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, I was struck by how many amazing high school bands were selected to perform in this celebrated event. This was the first year I have actually watched the parade all the way to the end, and, at its conclusion, I decided to share some information about the gifted and dedicated educators who have devoted their expertise to serve as band directors for these groups of talented young people.
Joel Denton led the Ooltewah High School Band from Ooltewah, Tennessee. Joel earned his bachelor’s of science in music education at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Joel has served as chairman of the Fine Arts Department at Ooltewah from 1982 to the present, and as the choral director from 1993 to 1997. This talented educator was selected as the Ooltewah Teacher of the Year in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, and 2011 and the Beta Club Teacher of the Year in 1995. The Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts has twice honored him for outstanding teaching and mentoring. He is active as an adjudicator, clinician, and consultant for bands throughout the nation.
Band director Kevin Ford led the Tarpon Springs High School Outdoor Performance Ensemble. This group hails from Tarpon Springs, Florida. Kevin is the director of The Leadership Conservatory for The Arts at Tarpon Springs High School, and has been nationally recognized as an accomplished show designer for the past twenty-five years. This gifted educator has been a teacher in the public school system for eighteen years, all of which have been spent as the director of bands at Tarpon Springs High School. Kevin earned his bachelor of arts in music education from the University of Florida.
Directing the Union High School Renegade Regiment from Tulsa, Oklahoma, was Matthew McCready. Matthew, an eight-year veteran educator, graduated from the University of Kansas, earning both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education. While attending KU, this hardworking educator served as the assistant director of both the men’s and women’s basketball bands during the 100th year anniversary of Kansas basketball. During those years he was also selected to perform in the Walt Disney World All-American College Band. In addition to teaching, Matthew devotes his time to being a musician, adjudicator, clinician, and conductor.
Band director Greg Snyder led the Lakota West High School Marching Firebirds from West Chester, Ohio. Greg has been director of bands in the Lakota Local School District since 1987. He earned his bachelor’s degree in music education degree from Bowling Green State University and his master’s degree from VanderCook College of Music in Chicago, Illinois. Most impressively, this talented director was inducted into the elite ranks of the American Bandmasters Association (ABA) in 2007.
Directing the Marian Catholic High School Band from Chicago Heights, Illinois, was Greg Bimm. Greg, who has taught for thirty-six years at Marian Catholic, earned his bachelor’s degree in music education from Illinois State University, his master’s from Western Illinois University, and his doctorate from VanderCook College of Music. Greg has received five National Band Association Citations of Excellence and the NBA Certificate of Merit. He was named the 1983 national winner of the ASBDA Stanbury award for young band directors, and received the Sudler Order of Merit from the John Philip Sousa Foundation in 1991 and 1997. Most recently, this remarkable educator served as a member of the teaching staff for the Bands of America Honor Band that appeared in the 2005 Tournament of Roses Parade.
Leading the Concord Community High School Marching Minutemen from Elkhart, Indiana, was gifted and talented band director Scott Spradling. This is the fifth appearance of the Minutemen in the Macy’s Parade. What is so impressive about Scott’s music program is that the Performing Arts Department at Concord High School involves approximately half of the school’s 1500 students in their course offerings of marching band, concert band, jazz band, pep band, string orchestra, symphony orchestra, choir, piano, dance, and AP music theory.
Director of Bands Scott Burgener led the Mountain View High School Toro Marching Band from Meza, Arizona. Scott has been a high school band director in Arizona since 1993, and has taught at Mountain View since 1999. This dedicated teacher holds both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in instrumental music education from Arizona State University. Scott has been honored with the Champion of the Arts Award by the West Valley Fine Arts Council, and in 2006, he was chosen as one of the “50 Directors Who Make a Difference” by School Band and Orchestra (SBO) Magazine. In 2009, he was recognized with AMEA’s George C. Wilson Leadership/Service Award.
Also making an appearance in the parade was Macy’s Great American Marching Band, comprised of students from all fifty states. These amazing student musicians rehearse together for only one week prior to the parade. This band was led by Dr. Jon Woods from the Ohio State University and Dr. Richard D. Good from Auburn University.
Chalkboard champions, all!