Are You Making the Most of Your Life?

This month, UpClose puts the spotlight on modern band and jazz from our partners at MusicWill and the Jazz Education Network (JEN). The modern band articles are previews of what you can experience at the Modern Band Summit, July 10-12, 2024, at Colorado State University, in Fort Collins, CO. This national teacher conference will gather educators from across the nation for a transformative experience of workshops, artist talks, jam sessions, and more. Engage with experts and connect with peers who share your passion for using music to make a difference in children’s lives. Whether you’re a seasoned educator or just starting, you’ll leave with valuable hands-on experience, new tools, and innovative techniques to elevate your classroom and positively impact the lives of your students.

I recently had an experience I will not soon forget. Colonel (USA Ret.) Hal Gibson has had one of the most extraordinary lives of anyone I’ve ever met. He was an Army bandmaster in WWII in the South Pacific and over the years climbed the ranks, leading numerous bands in extraordinary musical performances. He preceded me (by many years!) as Commander of The U. S. Army Field Band and in 1976 was named Commander of the Armed Forces Bicentennial Band, an all-star group that toured the nation celebrating the 200th year of America’s birth. He then went to Columbus College in Georgia and built the Columbus State University band program into one of the finest in the region. His third career involved founding and leading many community music groups near their retirement home in Melbourne, Florida. At the age of 98 he was still flying a plane after many years as a flight instructor. This week, he celebrated his 100th birthday by conducting at a concert by the Melbourne Municipal Band, joined by retired Army Colonels Jack Grogan, Bryan Shelburne, myself, Tim Holtan, and Jim Keene along with Dr. David Gregory.

I share this for a purpose, not to just brag about a great experience I had. Hal Gibson’s century-long example is one we can all benefit from. It’s not the number of years we’re each given on this earth, it’s what we do with them. Never stop learning, never stop making great music, never stop making friends, and never stop treating people as you’d want to be treated.

The superb Melbourne Municipal Band (Staci Rosbury, conductor) is one of many community groups all around America where people of all ages can keep making music together. They sponsor a free summer music camp for students in their area. The band I conduct, the Thornton Community Band, is buying new “step up” instruments for deserving high school students who have outgrown their starter instruments. These are just two examples of the incredible music making and contributions by the many community bands, orchestras, choruses, and jazz bands all around the country.

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