Happy New Year, one and all! One of my favorite activities on New Year’s Day is to watch the annual Tournament of Roses Parade, whether in person or on television. I was born in Pasadena, and this unique, flower-inspired parade has always been very special to me. I have many happy childhood memories of standing on the curb on Colorado Boulevard to watch the spectacular floats, outstanding bands, and marvelous equestrian groups go marching by. This year, the theme of the parade is “Find Your Adventure.” I was especially impressed with the many talented high school bands from all over the country that participated in this marvelous parade today. Let’s pay tribute to them!
Launching the parade was the Etiwanda High School Band, which hails from Etiwanda, California. The 200-member Marching Eagle Regiment performed under the direction of Jeremy Hackworth. Jeremy’s students were teamed with Corporate Magic to present the opening act for this year’s parade, performing a drill team sequence and original music composed specifically for the event. “These kids work so hard — not just on the field, but also behind the scenes with their academics and their work schedules,” praises Mr. Hackworth. This talented music director earned his bachelor’s degree from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, and he is currently working on his master’s degree.
To continue, Director of Bands Blane Hinton led the brilliant Allen Eagle Escadrille hailing from Allen, Texas. The Escadrille claims to be the largest high school marching band in the United States, boasting a whopping 782 members. “Our philosophy here (at Allen) is we try to make sure that every student of ours gets the opportunity to participate in the marching program,” explained Mr. Hinton. “Plus, the kids are just phenomenal.” This amazing music director earned his degree at Texas Technical University.
Next came the Plymouth-Canton Educational Park Band. Directors David Armbruster and Jonathan Thomann led this accomplished band from Wayne County, Michigan. The band represents three comprehensive high schools: Salem, Canton, and Plymouth, which employs 350 teachers to serve 6,500 students in grades 9-12. This fabulous band has won over 500 awards in the past 16 years, and has performed before Presidents Ronald Reagan, H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. Director of Bands Mr. Armbruster earned his bachelor’s degree in music education in 2000 and his master’s degree in 2005, both from Western Michigan University.
The Los Angeles Unified Schools All-District High School Honor Band. This 380-member noncompetitive band is comprised of distinguished student musicians from high schools throughout the Los Angeles Unified School District. The group has been marching in the Rose Parade since 1973. For the past three decades, this group has been marching under the able direction of Director Mr. Tony White. Mr. White worked as a music educator at John C. Fremont High School for ten years. Although he currently works as a professional jazz musician playing the saxophone and clarinet, he is still heavily involved with music and arts education, serving as the music and entertainment coordinator in the LA Unified School District. “The challenge for me is maintaining both,” he asserts. This chalkboard champion earned his bachelor’s degree from University of California, Riverside, his teaching credential at Cal State Dominguez Hills, and his master’s degree in educational leadership from Pepperdine University.
Hailing from Saratoga High School in the Silicon Valley in California, the 400-member Saratoga High School Marching Band and Color Guard performed under the direction of Michael Boitz. When Michael accepted his position as Music Department Chair at Saratoga High in 1997, there were only eleven students in the entire orchestra program. Fourteen years later, the department has expanded to hundreds of students, as you can see below. “I think it’s an incredible testament to the dedication the community has in our kids,” expressed Michael. “It’s a testament to the support the community gives to the kids and the school as a whole.” Named the 2013 Music Educator of the Year by the California Music Educators Association, Michael graduated magna cum laude from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, and earned his master’s degree at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.
The next band to perform was the magnificent Jenks High School Trojan Pride Band from Jenks, Oklahoma, under the direction of Director of Bands Scott Hillock. “The program has grown and improved in the last five years,” informed Scott. “Five years ago it had 112 band members and 12 color guard members. This year, it has a record 240 band members and 45 students in color guard,” he said. Mr. Hillock earned his bachelor’s degree from Southwestern Oklahoma State University and his master’s degree from Southern Methodist University. He has been in charge of bands at Jenks since 2006.
Next, parade-watchers were treated to a performance by the Franklin Regional High School Panther Band. Led by Director Kevin Pollock, this amazing band from Murraysville, Pennsylvania, performed “Walking on Sunshine.” The band this year has approximately 200 musicians, Pantherette dancers, majorettes, silks, and honor guard. “We are excited. We are proud to represent Pennsylvania in ‘America’s New Year Celebration,’ ” Mr. Pollock expressed. “We have a talented group of students who are looking forward to sharing their performance with the huge audience in Pasadena and the television audience around the world,” he said. This talented educator earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and has been the music director at Franklin for 28 years.
Congratulations to all these remarkable music educators, their hard-working students, and their supportive families and communities! A Happy New Year to all of them!