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I asked our current marching band president, Brad Volek, to write a little bit about his experience this year as the college band president. One thing you will notice while reading this article is that Brad doesn’t let any “grass grow under his feet”… -J. Pisano
…It’s the middle of May at the end of my sophomore year at Grove City College. I walk into band rehearsal a little nervous this day because the band is electing officers for next year and I’m in the running for president. The election results are read at the end of rehearsal and I have been elected. I’m ecstatic at the thought of this opportunity. Then it hits me – I’m band president, I’m in charge of 200 people…..now what?
The first thing I had to do was to figure out what exactly the Grove City College Band President actually does. The band president is charged with coming up with the schedule for all four days of band camp which include a band-wide after rehearsal activity in the evening. Our activities this year ranged from playing basketball, to serving Chinese food, watching a movie and our ever popular GCC Band Talent Show. It was also my responsibility to welcome all of the freshmen to band camp as they arrived individually and then welcome them again as a group in a freshmen only meeting. A few other responsibilities are to decide on theme days, such as crazy hair or twin day for band camp, as well as organizing a campus wide church service that the band holds on the Sunday of band camp.
All of the planning and organizing had to be done in a day and a half of officer camp, and that seemed to be a pretty daunting task to take on myself. I took it upon myself to stay in contact with last year’s band president so I could work on things ahead of time over the summer. This paid off more than I ever thought it would. Because of my consistent work, I was able to stay two steps ahead of the game all the way through band camp.
It was a good thing that I was two steps ahead, because band camp certainly had a few “bumps” in the road in store. The biggest of which came in the form of rain, lots and lots of rain. The rain became so bad that the mud in the middle of our practice field was ankle deep –no exaggeration. We spent all four days of band camp watching the radar online eager to steal 15 min of sunshine whenever we could. It made camp that much more tiring but the band didn’t miss a beat…..almost literally.
After a very successful and wet band camp, we took the band to a local amusement park called Kennywoodto march in an evening parade and the band was very well received. Our efforts finally came full circle this past Saturday as we marched down the Grove City College quad toward Thorne Field for our first football game of the season. My first responsibility this Saturday was to conduct the trumpets on the wall. This is a GCC Band tradition that on game day the entire trumpet section lines up on a wall overlooking the football field. Under the direction of the band president the entire section announces the arrival of the band by playing the Olympic Fanfare. It really is an awesome thing to experience.
Dr. Arnold and Prof. Pisano have both told me that this was one of the smoothest band camps they’ve had in a very long time. I attribute that to the fact that I did so much work over the summer in preparation to band camp. So what does it take to make a good band president for your organization? You need to find someone who isn’t afraid to do work, who wants to stay “two steps ahead” and someone whose will to show up and hour early and stay an hour late. To sum it all up, find someone who will eat, sleep and breathe marching band for a week and never stop. That’s what I did and I’m still going…
Brad Volek is junior Music Education major at Grove City College with a concentration in trumpet. He is the president of the Grove City College Marching Band, vice president of the GCC chapter of MENC and vice president of the independent men’s housing group Alpha Sigma. He is also a member of the GCC Jazz Band and Wind Ensemble. Brad is also a member of the theatre honorary Tau Alpha Pi.
A graduate of Kittanning Senior High School class of ’05, Brad still plays trumpet in Kittanning as a member of the Armstrong County Community Band and as a member of the Kittanning Fireman’s Band. He also has started his own private trumpet studio for local beginning trumpet and French horn players. He hopes to continue to teach privately and eventually become a high school band director somewhere in the Pittsburgh area.
[tags]grove city college, gcc, marching band, band officer, brad volek, mustech.net [/tags]
Joseph M. Pisano, Ph.D. is an industry innovator, education clinician and lecturer, trumpeter and conductor, and the creator of many education websites. He is currently the Vice President of Innovation and Engagement at Keystone Ridge Designs, Inc. After twenty-three years as a professor and administrator at Grove City College, he made the move into industry in 2018. As one of the youngest full professors in Grove City’s history, he served in various roles over his tenure including the Technical Director of the Pew Fine Arts Center, Assistant and Associate Chairs of Music and Music and Fine Arts, Director of Music and Fine Arts Technology, Director of Jazz Studies, Stage Manager, and he finished his tenure as the Director of Bands where he directed the college’s Symphonic Concert Band, Wind Ensemble, Marching Band, Pep Bands, and various small ensembles.
He been named a TI:ME Teacher of the Year, received the JEN Jazz Educator Award, the PA Citation of Excellence, and named a “member for life” of the PA Intercollegiate Bandmasters Association. He is a past Vice President of the Technology Institute for Music Educators, an associate member of the American Bandmasters Association, a past President of the PA Intercollegiate Bandmasters Association, and a member of various education and music honoraries. He has written for numerous publications including DCI Magazine, Teaching Music Magazine, and was the Educational Editor for In-Tune Monthly Magazine for eight years; he has contributed hundreds of articles to various publications. He is an active conductor, trumpeter, clinician, and educator. Find out more at his website jpisano.com.
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