Better a cruel truth than a comfortable delusion. ~Edward Abbey
Last night, Kiski presented the showcase of bands, whereas the seventh through twelfth grade students in band, performed, including the marching band. What a great talented group.
Mr. Robert Traugh is the Kiski Area Marching Band Director. Watching him instruct his students and seeing how they truly respect him is very refreshing and a relief to me. In fact, Mr. Traugh is a true leader. Besides being musically talented himself and very creative, he never accepts passing the blame, he gets straight to the heart of a problem to find a solution, he pushes his students towards excellence and beyond, and he holds each and every band member accountable. Like I said, a true leader and a good role model.
How do I know? Simply watching from a distance, as well as a brief encounter not long ago. Unbeknownst to Mr. Traugh, I was a bystander in the back of the room during one of his speeches to the entire band, after the Gateway Competition preliminaries when they first lost. I heard the talk in the halls, the students where blaming the program and wanted to go back to last year’s Origins show. Some where pointing fingers to this group, that person and so on. It was upsetting to me because I’ve never tolerated such behavior from Kyle, and there I found him among it. However, enter Mr. Traugh stage right (literally, the band members were on the stage in the auditorium) to put out the fire.
He must have heard or sensed the same negativity and gathered the students in the auditorium between performances for a little talk. Since it was a long day of chaperoning, I brought my iPad to work during down time. Coincidentally, I was seated among the spontaneous gathering site. I thought about moving, but I was right in the middle of a few thoughts I wanted to jot down first. Then, I didn’t want to bring any attention to myself by walking past the kids to exit during Mr. Traugh’s speech. So I stayed put.
He got straight to the point. Calling out specifics during the performance for the band’s low score and placement. In contrast, he pointed out the good aspects of their show, too. Mr. Traugh humbled the students, in a good way, and really turned their attitude around. Then, he drove it home by having the kids place themselves in the winners shoes and stated how good those kids must be feeling, especially since they haven’t placed first in a very long time. I believe it was Norwin or Moon that beat them. (Sorry I can’t remember)
Let me step back a few hours to right before Kiski’s first performance at Gateway. I don’t want to say they were arrogant, but overtly confident with an air of privilege. After all, in their minds, they swept last year’s first place seats time and time again, which they earned. After the students didn’t place this year, they had a reality check that was evident on everyone’s faces. Now, they were ready to fight for first place and earn their top spot again. On a side note, I thought they had a wonderful performance.
The way the kids responded to Mr. Traught’s lecture and encouragement made me proud. The kids are really a great group, and they wouldn’t be without proper leadership. Not only from Mr. Traugh but from all the instructors and the band parents alike. While the students are the face of the marching band, the parents and staff are the backbone. Without that structure, the band wouldn’t be able to rise to greatness.
During that day, which I believe was Saturday, September 24th, Ryan’s birthday, Kyle’s dad, Kiski school was home base to Moon between performances. Our kids were very welcoming and respectful, as was Moon. In fact, Moon ordered enough frosties from Wendy’s for the entire Kiski Band, as a thank you to hosting them between performances. Can you believe it? What a nice gesture! I’m guessing they have pretty stellar leaders too.
In fact, I’ve noticed during all performances, the Kiski Band has shown respect for all other bands. Watching the band stand and clap for performances, cheering on other kids, simply showing good comrade. They’ve also shown respect by they actions before, during and after performances, pitching in as a team to assist their own, and others and remaining quiet when needed. Yes, I can’t be happier to have Kyle surrounded by this group and the Kiski leadership.
Last Saturday, October 15, 2016, Kiski Area Marching Band competed in Bands of America in Newark, Delaware. How did they do? Fantastic! They took first place at preliminaries and second place overall, out of 27 top bands from the east coast. That’s what happens when instructors listen to constructive criticism to make the students better, the students humble themselves to do their best, and everyone works hard.
Way to go Kiski! Your show is really fantastic and you guys are very talented! Great season!