"Spirit of the Winds" Marching Band

The name “Spirit of the Winds” was coined by John Odom, Director of Bands at Floydada ISD from 1988-2009.
In its long and prosperous history, the “Spirit of the Winds” Marching Band has advanced to Area Marching Competition, and received superior ratings at local and region competitions often, including a Division 1 six times since 2006.
The Band motto and concept is “One Band, One Sound.” This emphasizes the value we place on many collaborating together as one, and the importance of preparing, serving, sacrificing, and working together as one family.

Our primary philosophy follows Gary E. Smith’s formula “system + spirit = success.”
To quote Smith, “A system is a way of doing things. It represents the total structure of an ensemble, including: organization, procedures, activities, philosophies, teaching methods, and playing style policies. Spirit represents how individual ensemble members respond to the system. It includes practice habits, positive attitudes, mental discipline, and work ethic. When the system is followed and good spirit is in place, the result is success and its byproducts, including pride, enthusiasm, loyalty, discipline, dedication, and prosperity.”

We must remember that we call what we do “playing.” Most musicians unconsciously reduce the definition of “play” to essentially mean “to create sound from an instrument or voice.” This is, of course, out of touch with the essence of the word. Play is activity engaged in for enjoyment or recreation, and it is of great value to remember that enjoyment and recreation are healthy and vital aspects of the experience of learning. The educational process must therefore aim to keep a healthy balance between the formula and play, between structure and creativity, to create a space where real learning takes place and where the students can use that knowledge to transform their environment, community, and future in a significant and meaningful way.

Therefore, the majority of all assessments and evaluations made in regards to the students are focused on their contribution of great attitude and strong work ethic, the two elements that make up spirit in Gary Smith’s formula.

Marching Band is an extracurricular activity, like sports and clubs, and is considered an athletic band in the United States for its high level of physical exercise and body health education. This leads many people to tout that marching band is a sport, since like all other season sports activities it combines athletic physical and mental performance on a team-based level with competition against other athletic bands for advancement. It is important to keep in mind that, while Marching Band does require a significant amount of time as a participant, and sometimes as a parent, we practice fewer hours than any other season sports activity at Floydada. Therefore, it is very important that every possible effort be made to ensure students’ attendance at rehearsals and practices during and ESPECIALLY after school, as our time together is rare and valuable.
Students are required to attend Summer Band Camp in order to perform as part of the competition band. Failure to attend Summer Band Camp, the dates of which are always posted on our calendar officially 3-4 months in advance, will result in that student automatically being assigned Alternate status. Being a part of high school band is a privilege, not a right, and likewise the various roles within the ensemble are earned, not guaranteed. There is a process through which an Alternate can challenge for a spot in the competition band if they wish to “level-up” in the ensemble. Students that do not earn a spot in the competition band by UIL Pre-Contest and Contest will serve as Roadies – they will still travel with the band, be a part of the band, and serve the band; however, their service will take the form of aid in equipment loading and unloading, pit moving and set-up, etc. instead of marching and playing their instrument. It is our hope that this encourages every student to take attendance and participation in the band very seriously and provide it with the level of respect which is absolutely necessary for excellence and success.
Band Night Rehearsal is on Mondays from 7:00-9:00 PM. This time is scheduled in coordination with the Head Football Coach so as to avoid any overlap in participation in football and band. Unlike many other activities, band is not an individual-based event but a team-based one, and we succeed and fail together. It is for this reason that it is important for all students to attend all rehearsals and practices.
Additionally, guest clinicians are often invited to help critique and work with the band in preparation for contest. Additional events will always be scheduled and communicated at least two weeks in advance, though usually we do so earlier than even that.
According to district policy, students who are ineligible for a Six Weeks are still expected to rehearse and practice with the band, and fulfill all normal obligations as expected, however they cannot travel to football games with the band or perform with the band at pep rallies. They may still attend, but they must do so as students, not as bandmembers.
The band program has many high achieving students. They take honors classes and AP courses and make high grades. We do everything we can to be cognizant and considerate of the complex and demanding academic schedules of our bandmembers. We spend a lot of time planning out rehearsals and practices so that the minimum amount of necessary demand is placed on the students in band, and we always do so while referencing every calendar we have been provided by the school, district, and activities at FISD. Nothing is asked without reason, and every assignment and request has a purpose. However, if students do not bring great attitude and strong work ethic to each rehearsal and practice, or if they do not complete their work on time, eventually the backlog will create stress. This stress is unnecessary should everyone do what is expected of them by when it is expected of them. For many students, band participation is a more relaxed experience, allowing them a bit of stress relief from the rest of the academic pressures of their day.

It all comes down to respect. If you respect a car, you learn how its engine runs, and you drive the car with care; if you respect education, you learn everything you can, and then you apply it when you’re asked to do it, the absolute best you can; and if you respect music, you learn everything you can about how music works, and then you practice it so you can play it the best you can, with care and with pride. Without hard work on everyone’s part, we as a band simply cannot give the music and the sport the respect they deserve.

Be as involved as possible. Those who do a variety of activities develop stronger friendships and bonds, have more fun, and develop their skills faster than those who have limited participation.

What you give is what you get. If you want to experience great performances, you must take the time to prepare. Learning your parts quickly allows more focus during ensemble rehearsals on style and matching qualities. Waiting until the last minute to prepare for a performance or for an audition typically ends in frustration. Excessive absences also take away from the finished product. Be a productive member in order to gain the greatest benefit.

COMMUNICATE. We can work through almost any conflict, but not if we are unaware of the problem until the last few days or hours prior to the event(s). Check calendars early and frequently. Talk with ALL parties involved if there is an issue. Please don’t try to manipulate the situation by playing the coaches, sponsors, or teachers against each other. We have a dedicated and very cooperative faculty and are flexible with all situations. There is no chance of “over-communicating,” only of “under-communicating.” As soon as you know about conflicts, fill out an absence request form from the website, e-mail the directors, and follow up as the event nears.

Parents: Volunteer! You can gain a lot by being around the process. You will get to know the students, see the progress, and make friends among the other parents in our activity. We can always use assistance with everything from chaperoning to equipment crew, fundraising to event coordination. There’s a place for everyone. Find the thing you enjoy doing and help out in that aspect of the band program.

Students: Ask for help when you need it. We have a wonderful staff and many talented instructors available. They are always willing to go the extra mile to help students improve! Private lessons are the key to rapid improvement of skills. Nearly every musician in the All-State Bands study with a private teacher. One-on-one advice and assistance is the fastest way to improve!

Don’t believe rumors and don’t create them! All of the “I heard from someone else….” statements are typically embellished to the point of being laughable. Ask the people in charge of the activity, go to the source, and please avoid speculation stated as fact. We have had near disasters based on false information passed along by someone who had no clue!

Be flexible. In a large, multi-faceted program, things do not always go exactly as planned. An event gets rained out…a bus is late….a football game goes into overtime. Many times, we have no control over these situations. We will communicate as quickly and clearly as we have accurate information. When we get a last minute change of plans, we will let you know the moment we get things sorted out.

Be a “receiver” of communication. Just as a star quarterback needs talented receivers, we need for folks to get the information that we make available. We use every means available to communicate (Facebook, Twitter, Website, E-mail blast, printed handouts, Google Calendar, Remind101, etc.). All we can do is get the information out there. You have to be our “receiver” in order for us to complete the pass.

Parents: Band is not a discipline tool for bad grades or behavior problems at home. We need all members fulfilling their performance obligations. If your student allows their grades to fall, then take away computers, TV, Facebook, cell phones, Instagram, etc. Take away car privileges, cancel prom attendance, sell their tickets to the concert or play that they are planning to attend, WHATEVER…but please don’t mess up the rest of the bandmembers’ efforts and performance by creating a gap in the music or routines by pulling your kid out of band. Yes, we know that they enjoy band and taking away something they enjoy can encourage them into doing better, but when it affects the rest of the group, we need to search for better solutions.

Parents: You are our best audience. Nothing is more disappointing to a teenager than spending weeks getting ready for a performance, then looking out and seeing mostly empty seats. Come to the performances; applaud loudly the efforts of the performers. Sit together at marching band events. Promote your band program. Invite relatives, friends, and potential future band members to the concerts and performances. We need big crowds!

Communicate (a lot).
We send information out through multiple sources. Visit the band website often (weekly). Sign up for any and all band social media outlets (Floydada Bands Facebook, Remind101, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) Put our events on your calendars. E-mail the band directors with questions/conflicting dates. Open and read emails, and then RESPOND. “We didn’t know…” is a difficult statement given the myriad of communications outlets that we utilize.

Understand the dynamics of a large group with both curricular and extracurricular components.
When we have a rehearsal scheduled after school (for any activity), we will rehearse until the time indicated on the schedule. For example, if we have marching practice until 9:00 p.m., we will wrap up rehearsal and announcements at 9:00. It will take several minutes for your student to walk from the field to the band room, put away their instrument, gather their belongings, probably chat with friends, and get back out to the car. Best estimate would be that they get in the car by 9:20 – 9:25 PM. This does not mean that practice ran overtime. If you have difficulty coping with the time needed to get them back to you after practice, simply alter your calendar to show rehearsal ending at 9:30 PM. Then, when they get to you at 9:15 PM, they appear to be early. (I say this partially in jest, but some folks get upset when their bandmember isn’t exiting campus at the scheduled ending time of practice.)

Understand that there are expenses to participating in this type of activity beyond the obvious costs of instruction and travel, but they are FEW.
They will need things like black socks and a band shirt to wear while in uniform, and the Band Boosters have a tradition of every parent contributing $5.00 per student for the purchase of water bottles for away games and competitions.

We provide at least one meal for events that travel, but students may want additional money for concessions/snacks should they get hungry again – this is of course up to you, and entirely optional.

Most other costs the band program covers through exceptional financial support from the School Board and District: costs like uniform tailoring and cleaning, reeds, valve oils, instrument repairs (if the damage is accidental and not due to neglect), registration fees, and much more are all taken care of by us. We aim to do whatever we can to relieve the financial commitment of band participation as possible.

We schedule the minimum amount of time that we feel is necessary to prepare for performances.
This means that every practice and performance is “mandatory.” Unfortunately, the word “mandatory” has come to mean the same thing to many people as the word “convenient.” We expect all students at all scheduled band activities.

Grades are not based on attendance. Grades are based on achievement.
Yes, you can do all of our activities and get good grades, take honors classes, etc. Students across the country do it every day. Some of them continue music in college. All it takes is careful planning and flexibility in scheduling.

While there are many “good reasons” to miss scheduled activities, all of them cannot be excused when it comes to attendance awards, varsity letter requirements, or continued participation in our extra activities. If it falls under the parameters of a school district or Texas Education Agency recognized reason for excused absence, then we will honor it…no questions asked. We try to be as flexible as possible with other situations, but it is difficult to excuse family parties, all types of church youth activities (we avoid Wednesday evenings in scheduling), scouting events, etc. We have gone for many years without ever having the entire band at a practice or performance. Sometimes, our activity needs to take precedence for a particular performance. Absences from a band performance hurt ALL the other kids. They can’t perform at their best with parts missing, a football team can’t perform their best with their Quarterback missing.

We need parent involvement.
There are hundreds of little activities that can be done with a minimum time and effort investment. There are many events to chaperone. There is equipment to be moved for performances. You could help with hospitality for an event. Perhaps you can help decorate for the banquet. And of course, we always need help in the Band Booster Club and Concession Stand (not to mention, hours worked earns money for your kids towards their Spring Trips!). No task too small…all help appreciated!

Be careful with social media!
This applies to parents as well as students. You can present yourself in a positive manner or in a very negative context. Those who use social media to vent often misrepresent facts and can damage our activity by spreading false information in a public forum. Ironically, the same activity that one individual portrays on Facebook as a negative experience is actually a positive experience for other members…and it is the same activity.

Once calendars are published, every effort is made to stick to those schedules.
We do not “hold back” events. As soon as things are confirmed, they go on the calendar. Unfortunately, emergencies arise, events get cancelled (or new events get added at the last minute) and these are totally out of our control.

For example, a parade is scheduled for a particular Saturday and the weather is horrible. We have to cancel the event. We didn’t know that the weather would be bad when we scheduled the event 5 months earlier.

Another scenario: the phone rings in the band office. A representative of a TV production company requests 50 band kids to be in a TV commercial shoot and offers the band $5000 for 4 hours of our time. Of course we want to participate…but we didn’t know about it until two weeks ahead of the event. Do we decline because it wasn’t on the calendar months ago? (This last one is a little out there, but you get the point.)

As you can see, we are in a fluid situation and must sometimes adjust plans accordingly. We are not trying to mess up your schedule.