Westfield High School’s music program was in dire need of revitalization. That’s when Director of Bands and Performing Arts Andrew Muth stepped in. “A successful program isn’t built in a day or a single year. We knew that it was going to take time to build the program,” he explains.
Muth put together five- and 10-year plans that detailed where he wanted to go and how to get there, and he shared the vision with students, parents and the community. “Our goals were big and at times they felt impossible, but we always said that if we do the work, the results will come,” he says.
This inclusive and transparent approach has paid off — there is a real sense of pride around the band program. “I am blown away everyday by the power of relationships. Our kids care about each other. Our parents are the hardest working crew, and the relationship that they have built with the program is incredible,” Muth says.
According to Muth, success has always and will always be the byproduct of excellence. That level of excellence has seeped into their performances. “Our philosophy is that every detail matters,” he says. “This has meant that we always work with designers and vendors who care about our kids. We put shows together that create an identity that is uniquely Westfield. This means we pull from a variety of visual and musical inspirations.”
A particularly memorable experience occurred last year at the WGI Winds finals. “As we were walking onto the floor to perform, a senior leaned over to me and said, ‘I don’t ever want this to be over,’ which made tears fill my eyes. Anytime you watch a student understand the transformative power of music, you couldn’t ask for more,” Muth says.
Muth finds daily inspiration from his own high school band director, Bill Laughlin, who had a sign in the front of the band room that read “good enough is neither.” This phrase affects my leadership style every day. “I would never ask a parent, student or staff member to do something for the program that I wouldn’t personally do myself. I am unapologetically passionate about our kids and our program. I believe in the power of believing in the ability of your students. I go into every season and school year believing that this can be our best year yet,” he says.