Music Brings People Together

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Michael Leckrone

More than 160 years ago in 1857, strife between the North and South would soon push the United States into the Civil War, but music brought students together at the Boston Farm School where the first high school band formed. While the school and the ensemble no longer exist, it paved the way for other historic bands, eventually resulting in the invention of the baton, an 8-to-5 step size, as well as showmanship on the field. “Living History” showcases these pioneer groups, some of which are still making beautiful music together.

Nearly 50 years ago in 1969, astronauts landed on the moon, and Michael Leckrone set foot at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as director of the Badger Band. Transistor radios were the rage, and The Beatles had the number one album. The United States was in the middle of the Vietnam War, and antiwar sentiments spread across college campuses. During this time of both upheaval and free spiritedness, Leckrone battled apathy and low enrollment in the band. Yet he stuck it out—always ready for a challenge. In the “Direct From” Q&A, Leckrone looks back on the steps he took to transform the band as he simultaneously looks forward to his retirement.

As we move full steam ahead to modern times, records, cassette tapes, and CDs have all come and gone. Music today is available digitally at our fingertips through various kinds of handheld devices. Thanks to both hardware and software access, musicians also have easier methods to compose, record, and mix their own songs. And this ability to create music has extended into high schools where students are taking music technology courses. “The A in STEAM” shows how music is being integrated with science and technology through these classes.

Students these days are learning new skills for future jobs that don’t currently exist. And those involved in the marching arts are being given early leadership opportunities that will help propel them toward success in whatever career fields they pursue. “Selecting Student Leaders” on page 22 details how ensembles at all levels are assembling and developing their young leadership teams.

As we wrap up another year, Halftime Magazine showcases the past, present, and future in these articles. Thanks for continuing to be a fan, and we look forward to a great year ahead.

Musically Yours,
Christine Ngeo Katzman
Publisher and Editor-in-Chief

Photo of Michael Leckrone in 1982 from Norman Lenburg/UW Archives.

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