A Positive Culture

Mary Karen Clardy

In January I visited Prairie View A&M University as a guest artist for the school’s Flute Festival, and my experience reinforced the belief that marching band culture can have a positive effect on every aspect of a music program.

Prairie View A&M holds competitive auditions for the 350-member “Marching Storm” before every new academic year. Core values of discipline, focus, teamwork, and pride were evident during my visit.

The warm hello by Dr. Mark Phillips, music department chair, carried through the day’s interaction with students, professors, and staff, and their enthusiastic, positive attitude was contagious! Here are my observations of the unique culture at Prairie View A&M University:

Receptive Attitude to Learning

Great students show consistent enthusiasm and keep an open mind to new musical ideas, solving technical issues through creative solutions and experimenting with different practice methods.

Sense of Belonging

Building a group culture requires time to develop routines and habits beyond individual concerns. Summer band camp and daily marching rehearsals create a sense of belonging that builds confidence and personal strength. Working within a team develops the balance, blend, and musical flow needed for success in any ensemble.

Pride in Accomplishing Goals

Setting goals motivates practice and develops technical consistency in order to achieve success in auditions and competitions. Personal discipline instills pride in individual and group accomplishments.

Accountability and Commitment

Group accountability and commitment developed in marching band rehearsals develop maturity in personal habits that ensure a lifetime of success.


More experienced students mentor younger members, helping with instrument maintenance, practice routines, and rehearsal attitudes.

The core values are obvious in students at Prairie View A&M University, and the strong marching band culture there prepares them for a lifetime pursuit of excellence.

Read this article where we previously featured Prairie View A&M.

About author

Mary Karen Clardy

Mary Karen Clardy, professor of flute at the University of North Texas in Denton, appears as a soloist, chamber artist and teacher throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Asia and South America. A renowned author, she has published more than 10 books from European American Music, Leduc, Schott and Universal Edition. Her students are consistent prizewinners in international competitions and occupy prominent orchestral and faculty positions throughout the world. Visit www.mkclardy.com.