AN INSIDE LOOK - Commentary and opinions on local politics and life in general in Southeastern Massachusetts! Featuring the writings of Bill Gouveia, newspaper columnist for the Sun Chronicle and local cable TV talk show host. Feel free to read, comment and enjoy!
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Norton Needs to Keep Band Going
This column originally appeared in The Sun Chronicle on October 21, 2013.
AN INSIDE LOOK
By Bill Gouveia
it may have seemed trivial and relatively unimportant to many, the announcement
last week that the Norton High School Band has dissolved to the point where it
pretty much does not currently exist and cannot march in the annual Veteran’s
Day parade has many people incredibly sad.
the impact on the parade and the honoring of our deserving veterans is of prime
importance, the current state of the band is disturbing on many levels.It says something about our priorities today
regarding both our educational systems and society in general.
am former president of the Norton High band.It was back in 1974, and I might have been the worst president the band
has ever had.But I played the trumpet
(not overly well) and enjoyed marching during football games and parades.
covered high school sports for this fine newspaper back then, and would walk
the sideline in my band uniform taking notes until halftime.Then I would make a mad dash for my trumpet,
jump into line, and perform in the halftime activities.My wife-to-be (yes, high school sweethearts)
“played” the symbols.Her big moment at
each home game was the crash at the height of the Star Spangled Banner.
children find our band experience embarrassing.But as we tell them all the time – it was very cool to be in the band
back then.And it should be now too.
marching band was 99 members strong, which was amazing considering our
graduating class had only 99 members.We
won awards in statewide band competitions, and even recorded an album.I was going to explain those are oversized
CDs, but then realized even CDs are now obsolete.
were proud to be band members, as I’m sure recent band members were also.We loved the parades, where we got decked out
in our uniforms and represented our community.We looked forward to the ceremonies at the town common, and the hot dogs
the veteran’s organizations so generously served us at the finish.
that pride in the band and the music program is considerably less visible
despite the tremendous efforts of those great kids trying so hard to maintain
that wonderful tradition.There are just
simply not enough of them.
is not a completely sudden shift.Both
interest and funding (not a completely coincidental relationship) have been
falling off for bands across the area for many years.With the range of activities available to
youth today greatly expanded and in some views diluted, it has been difficult
to get students to commit the time and effort necessary to have a good band.
there is a difference between having a “good” program and having a program at
not enough kids turned out for the football or baseball team, there would be a
huge outcry throughout the town.We
should be just as concerned about this problem, and make every effort we can to
find out why it is happening and address it.
our children is not just about books and math and computer skills.It is also about creating well-rounded
students who appreciate the arts and can contribute to them.While not every kid is a musician, their high
school years should expose and involve them to these things as much as
I was in the school system, there was a program in place at the elementary
level to get kids interested in playing music.It was a great “feeder system”, and that has been somewhat revitalized
in Norton in recent years.But if the
community thinks the music program is important, it has to start showing it
is not all about funding, nor is it unique to Norton.And perhaps there is little we can do about
it.Our own kids never marched in the
band, though my oldest still claims we forced him to join in his freshman year.We understand how difficult it is to maintain
this very important tradition.
When there is no Norton High Band in the Veteran’s Day parade
next month, it will be a sad day for my hometown.Let’s hope it serves as a wake-up call all
around the area.
Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and
can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter at