What does it take to become a legend?

What does it take to become a legend? In this issue of Halftime Magazine, we celebrate the following four “Legendary Band Directors” at the high school and collegiate levels.

The four of them combined have received four Sudler awards, nine Bands of America Grand National championships and marched in many prestigious parades, including the Tournament of Roses Parade, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and several presidential inaugurations.

After learning their stories, we noticed many similarities that exist for these individuals as well as other well-respected leaders.

Longevity. Never underestimate the power of persistence. All four of these influential leaders have stayed at their organizations for at least 20 years—Walters retired after 30 years, Parks had been at UMass for 33 years before his untimely death in 2010 while Bimm has 38 years under his belt at his current organization. In fact, for many of these educators, their current school was their first employer following their music degrees. Because of their longevity, they have typically built their programs from the ground up and have outlasted generations of students, parents and administrators.

Passion. No one enters the teaching profession—or the music industry—to get rich. Music educators, in particular, are a passionate bunch. Bimm puts it best: “I get to go to work every day doing what I absolutely love.”

Charisma. Leaders have magnetic personalities. At Jacksonville State, Walters was known by the drumline as “Uncle Dave.” And one commenter wrote that Davis and his staff “genuinely love the kids.” Parks welcomed his students with an open door policy and many inspirational “Starred Thoughts.”

Support. Going hand in hand with a friendly demeanor is the ability to garner support from others. No leader can do everything alone. Band directors, in particular, must win over their students as well as parents/boosters, community members, administrators, their own staff and fellow educators. In fact, many of the four individuals credit community support as a key component to achieving this recognition.

These and many other traits set genuine leaders apart from the masses. Congratulations to these four educators.

Go Be Great,
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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