Posts Tagged ‘JVHS’

Why This Man is a VIP

December 12, 2015
JVHS Band Director Brian Walker

JVHS Band Director Brian Walker

He is a Very Important Person because he is one of many VIPs who are charged with the responsibility for teaching and inspiring our children to lead productive and fulfilling lives. The reason I selected him to make this point is because he brings to mind a very special music educator who positively affected mine and many other lives, the late Jordan Band Director Bob Barr, who grew a 17-piece pretty bad band – I was a member – into large bands that achieved national recognition. .

Walker, who recently graduated from the University of Georgia, in a sense, is starting his career as a music educator like Barr did. He’s in a little better shape. He’s starting out with a 30-piece band that plays well. The Jordan music program is in a rebuilding stage. Not too long ago, it had a drum line, but no band. That’s changed. And when Walker led the Symphonic Orchestra and Symphonic Band during the renovated auditorium dedication ceremony – it’s now the Robert M. Barr Auditorium – they sounded quite good to me.  They also knew they were appreciated, because the large audience of Jordan alumni and students gave them thunderous ovations.  Those ovations  continued when the Bob Barr Community Band played. The auditorium stage really filled up when the Jordan band joined them for the last two selections. It was a great finale with the school’s chorus, under the direction of Kirk Weller, joining the combined bands in a Christmas song medley. That one got a prolonged standing ovation.

Things are looking up again for Jordan musically.  I’m sure a lot of Jordan grads are glad.  I know I am.

 

 

 

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Musical Magic on the Jordan Stage

May 11, 2014
Selfie of mc in front  of Bob Barr  Community  Band

Selfie of me in front of the Bob Barr Community Band

The concert  that  was 25 years in the making graced the Jordan Vocational High School auditorium stage Saturday afternoon.  The Bob Barr Community Band never sounded better to me than when it played its Silver Anniversary Concert.  The audience loved it and so did  I.  

The are a number of reasons for that.  Top of the list has to be that its conductor, Fred Catchings,  is a lot like the man for  whom the band is named.  Retired educator Jimmy Motos, who plays clarinet and emcees the concerts,  told me that, and he should know, because he played in a Bob Barr JVHS band. “He rehearses the same way.  You keep doing it until you get it right.” Catchings is a retired U.S. Army band director.  His last assignment was as commander of the Fort Benning band.  How fitting. Bob Barr was stationed at Fort Benning when, in 1946, he took the job at Jordan. He wasn’t an army band director, though. He was an Officer’s Candidate School instructor during World War II.      

Another reason  the Bob Barr Community Band plays so well is that it has talented musicians from all walks of life.  Most live in the Columbus area, but some will travel a hundred miles or more to play in the band.  One of the talented musicans is Adam Mitchell, who is now director of the Jordan Band.  His band recently was awarded superior ratings.    

Since I was a member of the first Bob Barr band at Jordan, I was called on to  make a few remarks.  I told the audience about how I joined the Jordan band in 1945,  which was a year before Robert M. Barr took over.  The director of that quite small band was a student.  Not only did  he direct the band, but he played first clarinet and football.  “You can play drums, right.” Fellow classmate Wallace Helton, who convinced me to join,  had told him that.

“Well, yes, but I can’t read music.”

“You’ll fit right in. None of our drummers can read music.”

After Bob Barr, the band’s first paid full-time director, took over in 1946, he let me know that drummers would have to be able to read music.  He also told me that I was going to teach them.  I couldn’t read music, and I had to teach them. Well, you didn’t tell Mr. Barr “no.”  I would learn a lesson from a percussion textbook one day and teach it to the other drummers the next day.  It worked. We learned to read drum music. In no time at all some of them could read it better than I could. Oh, well.

Mr. Barr – all his former students still call him Mr. Barr – took that 17-piece band and in six months time had it up to about 60 members and, it went from playing the really simple “Military Escort” march to Beethoven’s “Eroica.”   Over the years it got so good it won contests and played concerts all over the country.

He didn’t just teach music, he also took a personal interest in his band kids. He connected me with WDAK radio announcer Ed Snyder who became my mentor and helped me get my first job in broadcasting. 

I can’t think of a better tribute to him than for our community band to proudly wear his name, especially since that band plays so well.  It’s next concert is for Arts in the Park on May 18th at 4 p.m. in the Werecoba Park band shell.  Be advised that the band shell does not provide the excellent acoustics that you get in the Jordan High auditorium.