New director hopes to rebuild Marion's band
Marion school district’s band director Steven Glover wants his students to know he isn’t going anywhere — and they should give the band another try.
The 25-year instructor hopes his commitment to the band will defeat negative attitudes that have been caused by staff high turnover.
“Some of them develop the attitude of ‘how long is this person going to be here,’ ” he said. “They think ‘is it worth my time to put forth the effort if it’s just going to be another person next year?’ ”
Glover is Marion’s fourth director since 2008. Mike Connell, who served as band director for 25 years, has acted as a long-term substitute between directors.
With 25 years of his own experience between Peabody-Burns and Canton-Galva, Glover hopes to reverse the decline in the number of students who go out for band.
“Hopefully, even next semester, get some of the students in the high school that dropped to come back,” he said. “We establish a relationship with some of the students who are here, then hopefully try to bring the students back.”
Glover already knows Connell and is happy to have Connell on his side.
“It’s nice to know you have the support,” Glover said. “I know Mike. I don’t think it would matter who it is, he’s not going to go around saying anything about the other person.”
Connell said he understands that his role with the band program has changed with his retirement.
“That is not my job,” he said. “I would be willing to help in any way if asked to, but I’m not going to darken a door.”
One of Glover’s hopes is that experiencing different types of music from season to season helps students find a niche.
“It’s good for the kids to experience different styles,” he said. “They don’t have to like it, it’s like I’ve told students wherever I’ve been. You don’t have to like all the music we do, but it’s good to experience different kinds and styles to expand musical knowledge and hear different things.”
Repeated staff turnover is hard on students, Connell said.
“It’s very frustrating for students,” he said. “Different teaching styles and personalities come into play. Like any academic or non-academic activity, you have to have consistency in coaching.”
High turnover of instructors can lead to lapses in knowledge, Connell said.
“The new person coming in doesn’t know what’s been taught, and assumes what’s been taught,” he said. “Kids who haven’t been taught have to assume as well. That means production goes down. Without production, success goes down. Everyone wants to be part of a successful team, so numbers drop.”
One of the difficulties for a director is trying to teach students to play a variety of instruments, Connell said.
“The band has tympani and percussion instruments, all the way to piccolo,” he said. “They have to have all those instruments to be successful, which means the band director has to be able to teach piccolo, which is different from the flute, which is different from the clarinet or oboe.”
A good foundation is also important. Students need to learn to read music early, rather than later in their careers, Glover said.
The knowledge gained over years of playing accentuates the problem of losing high schoolers with a musical history, Connell said.
“Losing a student who is a junior in band, there’s no way to replace them because of the difference in experience,” he said. “There’s a difference between a student who just started in fifth grade, and who plays as a high school junior.”
Last modified Oct. 16, 2019