Over the weekend, close to 1,100 Mustang students showed their musical chops in concerts showcasing bands from the district’s two intermediate and middle schools, as well as Mustang High School. They performed in a stifling hot gymnasium, demonstrating a professionalism and talent beyond their years.
Many of these students illustrate the best of Mustang youth, working long hours both at school and on their own time with practice, lessons and more. Their parents do their part with some pretty significant investments in band instruments, fees, individual musical sessions and a myriad of other expenses big and small. Most importantly there is the is time – hours dedicated by the students, in the blazing sun and in freezing wind, early in the morning before it’s even light, late bus rides arriving home after midnight.
For the parents, it’s time away from their children, sometimes long stretches, changing schedules at the last minute, sacrificing vacations other students and their families take for granted.
To a great extent, much of this is done without complaint. For all, it’s an investment – some as a great experience for children as they grow up; for others, it’s a path to a vocation, perhaps a way of life. They love what they are doing, and they idealize their directors, men and women who put as much of themselves into the Mustang band program and its members as their students do.
They are led by Ryan Edgmon, a man who came to Mustang and followed in the wake of an extremely popular band director. Edgmon has made the program its own, brought in friends and colleagues to expand and improve a program many thought couldn’t go any higher.
They were wrong.
Not only has Mustang’s band program exploded in interest and participation – with next year’s projections topping, perhaps by a lot, the roughly 1,100 currently in the program – it’s managed a 90 percent retention rate. That means students entering the program in 6th grade invest six years of their lives to it. That’s a big deal.
Then, there are the accolades and achievements.
In the last three years, Mustang’s marching and concert bands have achieved a lot of “first time in school history” kind of things. From better and better competition placements to taking part in far-flung opportunities in places like Indianapolis and St. Louis, Mustang students are moving far beyond their own classrooms, auditorium and football field – and people are noticing.
That is due in great part to the students themselves, but there is not understating the contribution by this group of directors, people who give up their days off and vacation time, just as their young charges do. They work with the kids one-on-one and deal with hundreds at a time, giving many of them a love of music and a sense of family they will carry with them throughout their lives.
While it seems very obvious by the interaction between mentor and student, all of us – as the Mustang community, whether we love or know a band student or not – should thank these talented people, teachers and directors who have made a difference for which I’m not sure there are adequate thanks.
But, for what it’s worth thank you, Ryan Edgmon; and, thank you, Dustin Jussila, Greg Mangus, Jacob Hofer, Belinda Watson, Chris Ozinga, Gina Thompson, Colton Hines, Daniel Adkisson, Danielle Hopkins and Annette Nashire. You’ve made our school district, our community and our kids better.