Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ken Williams, He Called Us The Band Of Champions

  I remember the day Mr. Williams was standing on a stool painting what these days is referred to as "the old tiger" onto the side of our recently acquired instrument truck.

  Mr. Williams had been hired as the band director for the new band program here at Meek School. A kid asked me once, "What was it like when you were in the band?" Did the veterans pick on the rookies?"

"We were all rookies," I replied.

 Mr. Williams was a recent graduate of Florence State University by way of Vietnam. He was a Marine with a Purple Heart. When I saw the movie "Mr. Holland's Opus" about another high school band director that had had a profound influence on his students, I thought it was kind of funny that that band director did not know how to teach his students to march and had to enlist the help of the school's football coach. Mr. William's only problem was when to stop marching us before we passed out. I remember phrases like, "IGNORE THOSE SWEAT BEES! THEY WON'T EAT MUCH!!!"

  He took a band of rookies in homemade uniforms from a poor white county with a tuba case that had been purchased with money the band earned pulling corn and transformed it into one of the most successful band programs of all times to this day.

  What was so special about Mr. Williams? He taught us that with a little hard work and discipline we could be somebody.

  We put him in the ground the other day but he'll live on through us and in us. We really didn't care to much about if the contest judges thought we were the best or not. We just wanted him to think we were.

1 comment:

  1. We had our beloved Mr Holliman. He played trumpet in New Orleans before he came to Florida to be our band director. He taught me to play piano back-up for his trumpet and I would go to the bandroom and we would jam. It has been a useful skill for all the years since. Every November he had us outside and taught the whole band to dance the Charleston while playing Christmas carols in prep for the Christmas parade. He has been gone for many years but he will always have a place in my heart.