There’s Always a Band

The Music Man

“I always think there’s a band, kid.”

Many of you will recognize that quote from the classic musical and 1962 film, “The Music Man.” In it, a con man named Harold Hill sells band instruments and uniforms to families in a small Iowa town and promises to create a boys’ band. Since Hill isn’t a musician, however, he couldn’t even teach a single note. In the end, he must face the music as the mayor and other government officials find out about his lies.

This May, I watched this show for the first time in a semi-staged production put on by the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. I admit that the conclusion of the performance brought happy tears to my eyes.

In the musical, just the idea of creating music draws people closer together. Four bickering school board members become an impromptu barbershop quartet. A lisping boy gains the courage to break out of his awkward shell. And a withdrawn librarian falls in love.

The possibility of performing also gives the characters a sense of pride. At the conclusion of the show, the boys try to save the day and defend Hill by entering the town square, clad in their uniforms and with instruments in hand. Despite the cacophonous wails emerging from the instruments, the parents are filled with awe.

“The Music Man” has captured people’s hearts because community, self-confidence and pride is what music education is all about; it’s not necessarily just about the music itself.

On the other hand, unlike in the musical production, we can’t “think” our way into perfection in real life. Improvement of any skill requires consistent practice and devotion. Specifically, making music takes years of learning.

In today’s society, we may be cheating our communities by hollowing out school programs, waiting too long to begin formal instrumental education and decreasing the hours devoted to in-class instruction. In turn, school band and orchestra programs are getting smaller. Find out about this negative trend in our article, “No Band Left Behind?” and how you can help stop it.

After all, wouldn’t it be great if every band had “Seventy-Six Trombones”?


Musically Yours,

Christine Ngeo Katzman

Publisher & Editor-in-Chief

About the author

Christine Ngeo Katzman

Christine Ngeo Katzman has played the flute since the age of 8. She marched in the Northwestern University Marching Band, including the 1996 Rose Bowl and 1997 Citrus Bowl. She graduated cum laude from Northwestern with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1997. Since then, she has worked in the publishing industry as a writer and editor and helped launch Play Music, a magazine for recreational musicians, sponsored by American Music Group (now Music and Arts Center). In the summer of 2006, Christine worked at Yamaha where she interacted with staff and students in various marching bands and drum corps. Christine earned her MBA with honors from the University of Southern California in May 2007.

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