Valley Center Instrumental Music

Philosophy ~ "Everything We Do, We Do to the best of Our Ability!"


Music is a basic part of all civilized cultures.  The Valley Center Instrumental Music Program offers the opportunity for students to gain a life long skill and develop a sense of responsibility to themselves and the organization.


The Case For Why Your Dues For Band, Drum Corps, and Winter Guard Are Worth Every Dime

So after a less than pleasant day at work, I was driving home thinking about the nice frothy cocktail that would be waiting for me upon the conclusion of my very aggressive krav maga class, where I would be able to basically beat the hell out of my day and then put it to bed. I had a disagreement with a colleague who has difficulty thinking through the multiple alternatives to a problem. It reminded me of a situation years before where a colleague demonstrated that their critical thinking skills exist in a world based on ego and self-esteem. As this person, a friend, a long time member of the team was told that her suggestions for a solution lacked insight, she became defensive and shut down. Later in the day she resorted to middle school tactics and went and "tattled," thus making an already uncomfortable situation, a situation now based on lack of trust.

While thinking about my day and my cocktail, my mind for some reason drifted to my years of color guard. I was lucky to have been zoned for a high school with a great marching band. Almost everything I know and everything I believe, in terms of how I treat people, how I handle problems, and my ability to creatively manage a tough situation comes from that marching band. In my career as a performer, I was lucky to get to play an instrument, spin a flag, get hit in the face with a rifle, and have arms bruised by the blade of a Spanish Sabre. I performed at BOA nationals (when it was MBA), the infamous Tennessee Contest of Champions, Drum Corps International World Championships, and the Winter Guard World Championships. The build up to those competitions and the lessons learned, have stayed with me well into my 40's and no amount of money spent in college or in professional classes, will ever match what I learned in my years as a national competitor. My very core comes from years spent with band directors and guard instructors who wouldn't give up on me and demanded that I demand more from myself.

So, if you are a parent or young person wondering if the money is worth it, please know that it is. Every dime. Every tear. Every bruise. Every visit to the emergency room. Every push up. Every late night on a football field. Every disagreement. Every lap ran around the track. It's all worth it and let me give the young people out there, the current performers of our activity 10 reasons why.

1. Because early is on time and on time is late! Enough said.

2. Because your band director is too busy to deal with your petty arguments with your co-performers. Work it out, because it's only band camp and it's going to be a long season if you don't. In the stress and pain of any competitive season, learning to work with others will be your saving grace. This is life and in life you will have disagreements and whining to the boss should not be your first option.

3. Because your actions impact not just you, but the team. If you are successful, then they are successful. If you give up and quit, then those who did not give up and quit are still impacted by your selfish actions. There are fewer people who can work as a team than you will ever know. It's a skill not many have. Pageantry will teach it to you. There is no doubt about that.

4. Because your actions have consequences. If you don't practice there are consequences, If you are late there are consequences. If you don't listen to instructions there are consequences. If you gossip there are consequences. If you try to be an individual and not a team player then, there...are...consequences. In the workplace there are consequences for missing deadlines, being late, having an anger outburst, or just for having a bad day and those consequences could be career killers. Learn this lesson while you are young.

5. Because you don't get to choose who you will do that flag exchange with. The person marching next to you or throwing a flag at your head might just be the most uncoordinated person next to a fish trying to climb a tree. Learn to work with them and get over it. This isn't about you and the fact that you can do something better than someone else. It's about your ability to find a gem in the most awkward person.

6. Because you might not like your staff. Your staff might be mean. They may lack experience. They might lack talent. Your staff may just be the most respected and talented group of people ever assembled in a gym and they still might screw it all up. Here's the thing, though. You are stuck with them and they are stuck with you. Learn now how to manage situations that could lead to ultimate failure and learn to work through that failure without blame. Learn to not quit when things get hard.

7. Because the team outweighs the individual always and there is no one who ever gets their own individual score. You aren't the soloist. You aren't the 50 yard line diva.  You aren't the drum major. You aren't the flute player who only gets to play one note the entire phrase. You aren't just the freshman flag on the end of the line who nobody sees. You are part of an ensemble and everyone matters and everyone is seen. Everyone has a voice in the chorus and sometimes being in the back of the line is just as important as being the lead dog and most of the will teach you more.

8.  Because you won't win every competition you go to. You might even get last place. You might be 25 points out of first place. Your team might even get unfairly judged or an error on the judges score sheet will keep your team from getting a trophy. This is life and life is often unfair, without explanation and without an apology.

9. Because performing in front of a crowd is one of the hardest things you will ever do. You will panic. You will be so nervous you might throw up. You might screw it up so bad you set your equipment up on the wrong side of the floor. You might miss the note or drop the rifle. These shows will teach you resilience. They will teach you how to recover and keep going. This skill in life is more important than anything. Learn the word. RESILIENCE! Say it again. RESILIENCE! You are going to need it and there is no better place to learn it than marching band, winter guard, or drum corps.

10. Friendship. When you are ready to attend your 25 year class reunion it won't be the people you graduated with that you will want to see the most. It will be the people who stood next to you for an entire season while you learned to throw a quad, that you will want to see the most. It will be the person who sat next to you on the bus, who comforted you after you messed up that one note during your solo. It will be that person who said to you that the staff was crazy when they yelled at you for missing your drill set. The friends you make while preparing for those competitions are lifetime friends. You will long for them. You will miss them and nothing will replace them. There is no other time in life that I can think of when life long friends are made throughout the course of struggle and defeat.

When your band director or staff uses the phrase, "This is a life lesson," then listen. They are right. Life is hard. It's very hard, but the hard comes with rewards. Tom Hanks said it best in the movie, "A League of Their Own," when he uttered the very famous line,

"It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great." 

The reward is the beauty that comes from starting and finishing something that you never thought you could. When working on a tough project, I often know within minutes who has never had a coach tell them they are wrong or played on a team where their every move depended on their preparation and actions and although not a pure science, they tend to lack the ability to listen and the ability to use critical thought. Years back, I was working on a project at work that wasn't going well. There were about 10 people on the team. Most of the team either got lazy or gave up. Some wanted to take credit for the work once it was done. Some wanted to only critique the work, without offering their sweat in the process of the work. I found that there was this one man who was working as hard as me. He was creative and critically thought through all processes of the project. One day while the two of us were re-thinking the project, he made a comment that made me know that I was in the presence of a "family member." He said, "You know...sometimes all you can do is shine S**T." I laughed and asked him if he had ever participated in marching band, as that was a phrase often used by staff members. He told me he had not just participated in marching band, but drum corps also. Needless to say, the rest of the day we didn't really work, but talked about drum corps. Furthermore, it was two pageantry people who finished the project and made it shine like gold.

I dedicate this to every hard ass instructor and coach I ever had.

-from the Growing Up Pageantry Blog  July 11th, 2013



Why Teach Music?

Music is exact, specific, and it demands exact acoustics.  A conductor's full score is a chart, a graph that indicates frequencies, intensities, volum changes, melody, and harmony all at once and with the most exact control of time.  Music is...


It is rhythmically based on the subdivision of time into fractions, which must be solved instantaneously, not worked out on paper.

A Foreign Language:

Most of the terms are in Italian, German, or French and the notation is certainly not English, but a highly developed kind of shorthand that uses symbols to represent ideas.  The semantics of music are the most complete and universal phernomenon.


Music usually reflects the environment and times of its creation, often even the country and ethnic background.

Physical Education:

It requires fantastic coordination of fingers, hands, arms, lips, cheeks, and facial muscles in addition to extraordinary control of the diaphragmatic back, stomach, and chest muscles, which respond instantly to the sound the ear hears and the mind interprets.


It allows a human being to take all these dry, technical, boring, yet difficult techniques and use them to create emotion.  That is one thing science cannot duplicate- humanisim, feeling, emotion... call it what you will.  That is the purpose of teaching music!!

NOT so students will major in music.

NOT so students will play or sing for their entire life.

NOT so students can relax or have fun,


So students will be more human, recognize beauty, be sensitive, and closer to an infinite beyond this world, so that they will have something to cling to, more love, compassion, more gentleness, good...



We are excited about the full slate of opportunities ahead of us and we are eager to continue our exchange of good news about the value of music education for all of our students in the Valley Center Instrumental Music Program..

Often a single concert or presentation measures the success of a music program. While it is true that a performance demonstrates the students' mastery of skills, it is only one aspect of our comprehensive music curriculum. Instrumental music classes in Valley Center  are designed to prepare students to be responsible citizens in tomorrow's society. What is it about music learning that offers young musicians a head start over their non-musician counterparts?

* Music develops interpersonal skills such as teamwork, leadership, communication, negotiation and working with others; the basic personal attributes required for problem-solving in our modern day workplace.

* Music stimulates the creative, curious, and imaginative mind - the mental building blocks for critical thinking and self-motivation.

* Since much of music is active learning, it links the creative thought process to reality. The following quote is an excerpt from The Value of the Arts, created by the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities - 1993:

...Some skills taught only in the arts are as important to science as they are to art. Among these tools are playing, abstracting, building models and recognizing patterns. Non-verbal skills allow people to imagine and visualize new realities before they can be proven by logic or scientific experiment.....

When our students are in the act of making decisions based on present moment choices, they replicate the same thought processes used in expressing music. This is a human quality that must be developed; it is the foundation for all problem-solving skills.

When we take a holistic view of music learning, we develop a new perspective and appreciation for our school's music program. Music is important in the life of your child, our community, and our society as a whole.


The Dangers Of Competition: What Can We Do About It ?

(From the "Bands Of America" Rules and Procedures Handbook)

The performers in groups who carry a win-or-else philosophy tend to lose self-esteem when they are not successful. They see themselves as failures, for the intensity of this approach is all consuming and becomes one's whole life for the time of the involvement. The participants in these groups tend to look back on the negative side of the whole experience if they do not reach their ultimate goal.

But what about the benefits of competition? Properly handeled, competition can be a microcosm of life. We can learn, stretch our ablitilities and strive for goals that we would otherwise consider to be unattainable. We can learn to work together for common goals and to cope with each others inadequacies as part of the lesson for life. Not coming in first becomes neither a failure nor the end of the world if the participant has grown as an individual and has improved his/her performance.

With this can come the recognition that the participants in other groups are just as dedicated and are working for the same things, making them fellow seekers of the new ultimate goal of individual excellence of performance. They are to be admired and congratulated when they succeed and encouraged when they fall short. Everyone who knows more about himself or herself as an individual and his/her potential for achievement is indeed the winner.

This does not just go for Marching Band but the whole school year as students participate in  District/State Auditions, Solos and Ensembles, State Large Group, or Chair Placement in our Concert Ensembles......Push each other...SUPPORT EACH OTHER...Challenge yourselves and each other to grow as musicians and people as well !!

We do not just play notes on the page...nor just play the music...


"Music is a discipline, and a mistress of order and good manners, she makes the people milder and gentler, more moral and more reasonable. "

Martin Luther (1483 - 1546)