In January I visited Prairie View A&M University as a guest artist for the school’s Flute Festival, and my experience reinforced the belief that marching band culture can have a positive effect on every aspect of a music program.
Prairie View A&M holds competitive auditions for the 350-member “Marching Storm” before every new academic year. Core values of discipline, focus, teamwork, and pride were evident during my visit.
The warm hello by Dr. Mark Phillips, music department chair, carried through the day’s interaction with students, professors, and staff, and their enthusiastic, positive attitude was contagious! Here are my observations of the unique culture at Prairie View A&M University:
Receptive Attitude to Learning
Great students show consistent enthusiasm and keep an open mind to new musical ideas, solving technical issues through creative solutions and experimenting with different practice methods.
Sense of Belonging
Building a group culture requires time to develop routines and habits beyond individual concerns. Summer band camp and daily marching rehearsals create a sense of belonging that builds confidence and personal strength. Working within a team develops the balance, blend, and musical flow needed for success in any ensemble.
Pride in Accomplishing Goals
Setting goals motivates practice and develops technical consistency in order to achieve success in auditions and competitions. Personal discipline instills pride in individual and group accomplishments.
Accountability and Commitment
Group accountability and commitment developed in marching band rehearsals develop maturity in personal habits that ensure a lifetime of success.
More experienced students mentor younger members, helping with instrument maintenance, practice routines, and rehearsal attitudes.
The core values are obvious in students at Prairie View A&M University, and the strong marching band culture there prepares them for a lifetime pursuit of excellence.