Teacher Rebuilding Pocomoke Band Program

Teacher Rebuilding Pocomoke Band Program

POCOMOKE – While some marching band instructors spent the last weeks of summer planning drills for the coming parade season, Pocomoke High School’s Bill Williams was just hoping he’d have enough students for a band.

Williams, in his second year at Pocomoke High School, was tasked with rebuilding what appeared to be a dying band program. Concert band the year he was hired amounted to four students. Marching band wasn’t much better.

“We were at the threshold,” he said.

Williams, who previously served as the band instructor at Washington High School, spent his first weeks on the job contacting former band members to find out why they had quit. While several blamed scheduling conflicts, others told him they wanted a program with more discipline. That’s what he’s now working to give them. In addition to practicing the fundamentals, such as scales and technique, band students drill outside several times a week.

“They want to be in a group that’s doing well,” he said.

While a few of the school’s older students have returned to their instruments, Williams has built much of the band from underclassmen. He says recruiting from among the eighth-graders in the Pocomoke Middle School band has proved successful.

“Before, a lot of kids weren’t making the transition,” he said.

To address that, Williams has built up communication with the middle school band director and has even invited eighth-graders to perform in certain high school band concerts. That, he says, has given them an early glimpse of the program.

“That way coming over isn’t something brand new,” he said. “It’s made the transition easier.”

The Pocomoke High marching band is currently up to 30 members. While many of them are freshmen, experiencing their first year of parade marching, Williams says he’s thrilled to see the growing interest in the program. Now that the numbers are up, he’s hoping to even out the instrumentation.

“We still need more high brass,” he said. “Hopefully we can even it out. My goal is to keep the numbers consistent.”

Maggie Wells, one of the few seniors in this year’s Pocomoke marching band, says she’s thrilled that her fellow students are starting to show more interest in music.

“There are a lot of freshmen,” she said, “but they’re doing good.”

One of those freshmen, Maura Dean, says she loves not just the music students learn in band but the marching too.

“I love showing school spirit,” she said, adding that Pocomoke’s band had put on a good showing in its first parade Tuesday. “As small as we are, we’re a powerful band.”

While he plans to continue to grow the program, Williams in the meantime hopes to foster in Pocomoke’s students the camaraderie, friendship and discipline band teaches children.

“It’s not just about the instrument,” he said.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.