• The Leadership Imperative by Amanda Drinkwater

    The Leadership Imperative by Amanda Drinkwater

    One of the most invigorating and gratifying aspects of our roles as music educators is the opportunity to connect and collaborate with our STUDENT LEADERSHIP organization. This eager, wide-eyed pack of young enthusiasts can positively impact and revitalize many areas of our programs if given the chance.

    One of the most invigorating and gratifying aspects of our roles as music educators is the opportunity to connect and collaborate with our STUDENT LEADERSHIP organization.  This eager, wide-eyed pack of young enthusiasts can positively impact and revitalize many areas of our programs if given the chance.

    An active student leadership corps is not merely an ancillary group of devotees willing to move chairs and stands at our beckoning.  Given collective positivity, a modicum of training, and a measure of opportunity, this assemblage of our best and brightest can literally make ALL the difference in our programs.

    What compels students to serve our programs in leadership roles? 
    Most students naturally WANT to be helpful, though motivators vary extensively in substance and multiplicity as students grow older.  Think of the exuberant volunteerism of kindergartners when asked to clean up after arts & crafts hour--  these children are incredibly excited about participating in what would be considered a tedious task by the end of their 7th grade year.

    What is their motivation? 

    Their motivation is the promise of PRAISE and REWARD, of course!  Kindergarteners are THRILLED with the prospect of a pat on the back from their teacher, the opportunity to lead the first group song, the honor of being first in line for recess, or a nice note pinned to their shirt for their mom and dad to view at home.

    Older students (and adults for that matter) are similarly motivated, although there are additional vested interests.  Praise must be tempered such that it does not draw the scorn of peers.  Stakes become higher with regard to the expectation of reward, which may now include the hope (or presumption) of academic remuneration, advancement of role or placement in the group, or the expectation of public recognition. 

    While these motivators are undoubtedly self-serving, they can result positively when administered responsibly and contextually.    

    How can we foster student interest in serving as leaders for all the RIGHT reasons? 
    Our principal endeavor includes the careful maintenance of a mutually respectful environment in which constructive student contribution is commonplace. 
    Students will lead how they believe we lead! 

    As program directors, we must continually seek opportunities to entrust our leaders with meaningful roles, tasks and responsibilities, including items that may extend beyond our comfort zone.  Our own resulting reward typically expands far beyond the risk taken, even when our young protégés misstep or falter.  When the students DO let us down from time to time, we have a unique opportunity to strengthen the trust between parties by extending another opportunity their way. 

    How many times do we all recollect thinking to ourselves as young minions in the flock of our scholastic programs, “I could totally do that if he/she would let me….. in fact, I could probably do a better job in half the time.”

    No doubt we were probably right back in the day.  Our students are at LEAST as bright and as capable as we perceived ourselves to be when we were their age!

    How do we realize the full capabilities of this veritable army of potential?
    What can student leaders REALLY do for our programs? 
    Aside from attending faculty meetings and driving the buses to contest, student leaders can readily assist with virtually any aspect of our programs.  Consider these few of any number of additional possibilities:

    * Facility order and cleanliness
    * Equipment setup and tear down
    * Concert/performance setup and tear down
    * Uniform inventory management
    * Music library
    * Instructional assistance
    * Communications
    * Recruiting
    * Group morale

    Starting a student leadership group from scratch or changing jobs?  Be patient with yourself and with your students!  Consider a student leadership application and selection process that a) offers students the opportunity to understand your expectations through posted job descriptions, b) requires students to initiate or declare their own interest or candidacy in a given role, and c) includes some form of contractual agreement that ultimately enables the program director to make adjustments easily if necessary.  Consider including administrators and parents in all related communications and in any contractual agreement.
    What can our student leaders do for our programs?  The response is unique to each of us, formulated only by our own imaginations and limited only by our own apprehensions.
    Consideration of the limitless possibilities? 

    That is our own LEADERSHIP IMPERATIVE. 
    “Leaders are not born, they are made.  They are made just like anything else… through hard work.  That’s the price we have to pay to achieve that goal or any goal.”   Vince Lombardi
    Amanda Drinkwater is in her sixth year as Director of Bands and eighth year overall at Marcus High School. Her responsibilities include direction of the Marcus Wind Symphony and the Marcus Marching Band.  A pianist and brass specialist, Ms. Drinkwater is a native of Thibodaux, Louisiana.

    Ms. Drinkwater received her academic training at Louisiana State University and at the University of Kansas in Music Education and Instrumental Conducting, respectively.  She is in her sixteenth year as a Texas music educator, with previous teaching opportunities served at Leander High School (TX) from 1996-2001, and The Colony High School (TX) from 2001-2003.

    Ms. Drinkwater’s concert ensembles have received exclusively superior division ratings at the University Interscholastic League Concert & Sightreading contests, and have earned distinction as "Best in Class" at various regional concert festivals.  In 2006, 2008, and 2010 the Marcus Wind Symphony was named a TMEA Honor Band Finalist.  The Wind Symphony was a featured ensemble at the Midwest Band and Orchestra clinic in 2007 and has been recognized as a National Wind Band Honors finalist.  Ms. Drinkwater’s marching ensembles have earned seven consecutive trips to the 5A Texas State UIL Marching Contest and have been consistent Bands of America finalists and recipients of various caption honors, including the Outstanding Music Caption at the 2009 Bands of America Grand Nationals Championships.  In 2006 and 2008 the Marcus Marching Band earned the 5A UIL Texas State Marching Championship.  In 2008, the Marcus Marching Band was the recipient of the John Philip Sousa Sudler Shield award for excellence in marching band performance.

    Ms. Drinkwater has been named five times to "Who\'s Who Among America\'s Teachers", and is a member of Texas Music Educators Association and the Texas Bandmasters Association.  She was selected as Marcus High School Teacher of the Year in 2007.  In 2009, she was the recipient of the Music Educators National Conference "Excellence in Teaching Music" Award.  She is an active clinician and adjudicator for indoor and outdoor performing ensembles.
    Ms. Drinkwater\'s primary personal and professional influences have included her father and mother, Gary and Karen Drinkwater, her sister, Allison Drinkwater Johnson, Frank B. Wickes, Dr. Linda R. Moorhouse, Tom Bennett, John Whitwell, James C. Barnes, Robert E. Foster, Easton LeBoeuf,  Scott Watson, Larry Campbell, Dennis Hopkins, Sally Masterson, Beverly Stafford and Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser.

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