After closing a fourth undefeated season, graduating his seniors and getting ready to start the week-long process of organizing the band room and storage areas, good news found its way to Mr. Patrick Martin, Panther Band Director.
Each year, the Northern California Band Association awards a “Band Director of the Year” honor to one of its members. There are approximately 200 colleagues in the association, and band directors are a large portion of this group. For the 2011-2012 year, there were five names submitted to the NCBA Board on the basis of their ‘stand-out’ service. From that group, Mr. Martin was chosen to receive the top honor.
He was very surprised to win. He was selected on the basis of “his accomplishments as a band director and student organizer; community involvement and involvement in the association,” said Mr. Rowland Nielson, an NCBA Board Director.
A band director’s duties are intense and varied in their year-round job. Their busy calendar includes concerts, Honor Band, festivals, Winterguard circuits, music clinics, leadership, marching competitions, local and out-of-town parades and band camps. The NCBA board has many opportunities to observe and interact with their members during that time and therefore can get a good sense of those who perform in a noteworthy manner.
One of Mr. Martin’s contributions to the betterment of the association, had to do with bringing the concept of Dropbox technology to their activities. The storage and sharing of information helped to improve the way members could communicate with each other before and after events.
Another contribution pertains to the Relay for Life team. This cause has special meaning to him and several years ago he started a Panther Band team to join the charity. This is a volunteer-driven, fundraising event of the American Cancer Society. He wanted the band to contribute something to the community, and each year it gains more and more momentum among the band students. This year, it will be held on August 25 and 26 at Benicia High School. It is so popular within the band, that many recently graduated seniors are still committed to fundraising for the team all summer. They will be strongly represented on the team in August even as they prepare to start their post-Panther life.
Another criteria for the NCBA award is ‘student involvement.’ This interview occurred during the week after graduation, where Mr. Martin and his student leadership team (and some booster parents) committed a minimum of 35 hours to the reorganizing of the band room and storage areas. This is a yearly task and helps his new team to bond and problem-solve together as they form their working relationship. His leadership team is made up of students who went through a stringent interview process and year-long observations of their ability to lead a specialized group of musicians or performers. He relies heavily on them, holds them accountable, meets with them often, ensures they learn all aspects of the band, and bonds them early to each other.
He believes, “A band program runs best when it is student run.” He invests a tremendous amount of time in the beginning so that he can “step back as the machine runs,” while he concentrates on the more complicated responsibilities of .
Besides being a music program, it has all the makings of an informal Management Academy. It has the legacy of further equipping the students with the tools needed to become well-rounded adults, year after year. This alone is a worthy contribution to a band program, as well as to the future.
Speaking of the future, he has also received the distinction of directing the upcoming 2014 All Northern Honor Band for junior high musicians. This three-day event typically runs under the leadership of a high school band director chosen for their success in their own program. They select the pieces to be played, run the practices and conduct the musicians during the showcase concert. It can be challenging and carries a bit of pressure since fellow band directors will often observe daily practices and attend the concert. Thus, it becomes an important weekend where peer learning occurs across the board.
Congratulations to Mr. Martin and the entire Panther Band for representing Benicia in many worthy endeavors.
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