In this fast-moving world, it’s rare to encounter someone who thinks things through before acting. But that’s exactly what Mark Stanford does. “I make a conscious effort to take a step back and think about my response, answers and decisions,” he explains. “One way I have done this is by asking for the opinions of others, including students! And I seriously consider everyone’s opinions and suggestions — in fact, this year’s marching band show was entirely selected by the students.”
He took this same approach when he took over the band program at Springfield High School. “Not implementing too many rapid changes was important because each program has its own unique culture and expectations that must be learned and considered before making changes,” he says. “Upon my arrival, the Springfield band program already was headed in a positive direction. Keeping in touch with the former director and talking to colleagues helps me make decisions and changes that improve the program while honoring its legacy and traditions.”
Recruitment has been a primary focus for Stanford as he grows the band’s enrollment. “We have a district tradition of doing a side-by-side concert with the 8th-grade and high school bands,” he says. “We also have an 8th-grade band night, where 8th graders rehearse and have fun with the high school marching band. I also host several recruitment meetings led by current band members who share their experiences, and we emphasize that students can be involved in band and athletics by working with the district media team to have our athlete/musicians featured on social media.”
With his training on Pro Tools software and music technology instruction during his master’s degree program, Stanford was asked to help set up the new music lab and develop the curriculum for the digital music production class. Along with his colleague, Mike Zubert, Stanford worked with the district to purchase Pro Tools along with desk-mounted microphones and MIDI controllers, which maximized desk space. “The new curriculum gives students the opportunity to learn about concepts of music by creating and producing on industry-standard software,” he says.
On top of band and digital music courses, Stanford teaches a guitar and ukulele elective for which he developed curriculum and content with Zubert.