HOPE – The new director of the Hope Public Schools bands is eager to fashion the instrumental music program into a more community-minded model.
“Learning the instrument is important, but being good citizens and building a band family comes first,” Julie Gladden notes.
The former band director for the Pleasant Grove Independent School District in Texarkana, Texas, Gladden is a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Monticello with a degree in music performance.
She believes that she understands the dynamic of public school music performance education.
“You have to build respect within the students, and with each other,” Gladden said. “In football, there is a sideline; in band, there is no sideline. Everybody has to do their part.”
She intends to begin to build that culture with a “Meet the Directors” meeting on July 13 at 7 p.m. in the Hope High School band hall. Gladden will introduce herself, Yerger Middle School Band Director Brandon Ellis, and Jesse Osorto, Clinton Primary School music teacher and assistant band director, at the meeting.
Band students will also receive music and instruments, fill out necessary forms, and learn the schedule for summer band, back-to-school rehearsals and weekly evening marching performance practice, she said.
“We will be rehearsing more than last year, which is normal with marching band,” Gladden said. “You can’t do it all in one class period per day.”
Gladden wants to integrate parents and the community into the program.
“I like for parents to attend all of our performance events, and get them involved in all aspects of what we do,” she said.
That includes participating in travel with the band and activity in a “band booster” organization.
“I want parents to be active and know what we’re doing,” Gladden said.
Structure and discipline will be important in the bands program, she said.
“We will have section leaders and a band council made up of students,” Gladden said.
Those students will help maintain the organizational and performance discipline of the marching band program, and rehearsal discipline in the concert season.
“I intend to teach my student team how to be leaders,” Gladden said. “And, a leader, by definition, creates more leaders. I’d like to see the students in our band program be leaders in the entire school.”
That will require student cooperation and collaboration where upperclassmen serve as teaching mentors for lower classmen.
“It is not a competition,” Gladden said. “Everybody has got to work together for it to be the best that it can be.”
Gladden believes the HHS bands program can recapture something from its past.
“Beginner band needs to be one of your biggest focuses,” she said.
That requires testing fifth grade students to see their level of interest and skill, and providing an introduction to instrumental music program at that level. Beginning band starts at the sixth grade level.
“Some of our show ideas are new ideas and some from other amazing band programs; it’s a mix,” she said. “I want to teach our students to love music like it was in the good, old days. Everybody wants a piece of that, again.”