School music offers lessons, leadership
February 4, 2009 · Updated 11:00 AM
I cannot quantify the influence that Mercer Island’s band program has had on my educational successes. Since fifth grade, I’ve played the trumpet and continue to do so, thanks in no small part to my experiences with the top-notch teachers, and more importantly mentors, of the Mercer Island Music Department.
Parker Bixby and David Bentley (among others) have forged a band program in our school district that is unparalleled in the area and around the nation. Each of them takes the time not only to teach music, but to build relationships with each and every student in the program.
We on Mercer Island are truly blessed to have such a strong marching band program. The band tradition runs deep, throughout both middle school and high school, and the number of students participating continues to grow. Next year, more than 300 students are expected to be in the marching band at the high school. Just for reference, that means that Mercer Island High School will be home to the largest marching band in the Northwest. Bigger than the University of Washington Marching Band, bigger than the Washington State University Marching Band, bigger than the Oregon State University Marching Band and, yes, bigger than the University of Oregon Marching Band.
Since graduating from MIHS in 2005, I enrolled at the University of Southern California, where I joined the Trojan Marching Band. I now serve as drum major for the 300+ band and have played at four consecutive Rose Bowls, but I owe much of my current success to the lessons learned in the Mercer Island band program. And I know that my time spent in the band room at MIHS would be just as valuable if I had never touched a trumpet again.
The importance of uniforms to the overall look and feel of the entire band isn’t something to underestimate. Our program needs contemporary uniforms (not from the ’70s) that are easy to move in and will be practical for the Northwest climate.
These are difficult times, but I implore the members of this community to step up and do what they can to help out this marching band that will continue to represent Mercer Island for years to come.