When the Louisiana State University football team won the 2008 BCS National Championship on Jan. 7, 2008, the LSU Tiger Marching Band celebrated right alongside the team. Dr. Linda Moorhouse, co-director and associate director of bands, describes the band’s reaction to the victory. She also candidly discusses what it’s like being a female in a male-dominated profession.
Dr. Linda Moorhouse, co-director of the LSU Tiger Marching Band and associate director of bands, has built an impressive resume. Besides being the primary instructor of the marching band, she conducts the LSU Symphonic Winds, teaches undergraduate conducting and serves as immediate past president and executive secretary-treasurer of the National Band Association, based in Baton Rouge, La. She also supports females in the field of music as a former president of Women Band Directors International and current faculty advisor and member laureate of the LSU chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota International Music Fraternity for Women.
Here, she shares the wisdom she’s gained from years of experience and provides an inside view of LSU and the BCS National Championship.
Halftime: What inspired you to become a band director, and what brought you to LSU?
Moorhouse: I was given many special opportunities to learn about the band profession by my second high school band director and mentor, Martha Ann Stark. Not only was I teaching private clarinet lessons to other students in our program—Martha allowed me to re-chart and then eventually write drill for our high school marching band. I found that I enjoyed and had the patience for charting and was able to comprehend the concepts early on.
I learned at a young age that I had the patience to work with students and that I was able to make what they were doing better. Different students respond to different types of motivation. I understood that concept. I also found that I had a knack for instilling pride and a good work ethic in addition to making rehearsals fun.
During the spring of my senior year in high school, Martha told me I was going to be a band director, and I said, “OK!”
Majoring in music education, I also served as color guard captain of the University of Florida Gator Band from my freshman to senior years. One of my UF mentors, Richard Bowles, taught me an important lesson as a freshman serving in a college leadership position. He told me, “With people your age, you have to be able to make them do what you want them to do without making them mad or upset.” I never forgot that lesson.
Once I graduated from the University of Florida, Martha encouraged me to go to LSU for graduate school. I served as a graduate assistant with the LSU Band Department and finished my M.M. Ed. degree in three semesters. Graduating in the summer [of 1985], I went right into the LSU job one month later.
Halftime: What’s your favorite thing about being a director and about marching band?
Moorhouse: That’s easy—the students. We certainly don’t take on this job for the money! There is no greater feeling for a teacher than when your students become excited and inspired about what they are doing. It doesn’t matter whether the excitement is on the football field, like our National Championship win in January, or on the concert stage.
Even now after more than 20 years at LSU, I still get goose bumps when the Tiger Band takes the field with its traditional “Pregame Salute,” and the stadium turns into a frenzied scene of purple and gold emotion.
Halftime: What was it like when LSU won the 2008 BCS National Championship?
Moorhouse: Four years ago we won the 2004 National Championship in the same [Louisiana] Superdome, so to do it again was incredible. It seemed it was destiny if you look at our crazy season. The stars seemed to align and then realign themselves as we progressed through our 10 wins and two losses—both occurring in triple overtime.
The Tiger Band students felt like rock stars in New Orleans, especially at our hotel and on the streets. The fans not only asked for the students’ autographs—they offered to buy food and beverages, and they would line up on both sides of the hotel’s main entrance and lobby area and cheer loudly for the band students as they came into the hotel from rehearsal, a pep rally event or the game.
I’d like to think the two most famous pregame shows in the country were seen at the 2008 BCS National Championship. When we finally took the field after OhioState, the LSU crowd in the Superdome became so loud and emotionally charged, that everyone—Tiger Band and staff— had goose bumps. The students could barely hear one another; the crowd was cheering so loudly. The students still talk about the excitement of it all.
Halftime: On a different note, what is it like being a female college director?
Moorhouse: One major perk of being female in a man’s world is attending male dominated conferences. The restrooms are always empty!
I’m not naïve to believe that I have not been treated differently in certain situations with male colleagues, and I have been mistaken for the “secretary” or “the person who does the girls’ units” a time or two. I know I have missed being invited to “join the guys” once or twice.
Female directors have to make decisions about family and/or career early on; I believe this is one of the reasons we don’t have a lot of females at the high school or college level. Football rehearsals, games, competitions and travel can interfere with quality family time when raising children. While I know women who have been able to have a successful career at the high school and college levels while raising their children, they are few and far between.
I have never wavered from my decision to put my career ahead of a family, and I am very grateful for where I am and the opportunities presented to me. However, I am now at a point in my life where my personal life is becoming more important. These are tough decisions for not only women band directors, but also for career women in general.
Halftime: What advice would you give to marching band students?
Moorhouse: I would say stay true to your traditions and always be aware that you represent your school, whether in T-shirts or full uniform, in the classroom and on the field. You are the greatest ambassadorsyour school has to offer to the public. I believe band students are the greatest students on campus I know. I’m privileged to be around them all the time.