Christian School Band Directing

Praying with my son prior to our final performance of 2015.

In 1990 I began a 26 year journey in christian school band directing. Those years would have as much, or more effect on me than they had on my students.

Getting started

My first two years of directing at a public middle school were unpleasant to say the least. They wanted me to return for the coming year but I wasn’t thrilled with the idea.

I was visiting a friend in the summer of 1990. He lived in central Virginia and I visited him from time to time in order to maintain my sanity. He directed at a local high school with an excellent, growing band. One day, he told me that there was a job opening at a Christian school across town.

I grew up outside of Pittsburgh. When you say the words, “Christian School” to me, my first thought is, “Catholic School”. I couldn’t see myself teaching alongside a bunch of nuns. And, that is basically what I told my friend.

No Nuns?

My friend looked at me like I was nuts. He said it wasn’t a Catholic school. What? I didn’t even realize there was such a thing. But, he had piqued my interest. I made a call, interviewed and was offered the job.

I was now the band director at Lynchburg Christian Academy. But, what did that mean? I understood the band directing job, but what made this job different from teaching at a public school?

Bible class and prayer

My schedule included teaching an 8th grade boys Bible class. I told the principal that I hadn’t attended a Christian college or a Christian high school. I went to church and I read my Bible, but I had no scholarly information to share. He told me not to worry, there was a curriculum for the class. Just follow the curriculum. Ok, sure. Sounds good.

The administration also indicated that every class should begin with prayer. What!? I had never prayed out loud in my entire life. Well,… maybe once or twice. But certainly not regularly! I had to pray at the beginning of every class, every day?! This was going to be a very unusual experience.

Bible class

It turned out that the Bible class curriculum wasn’t extensive enough to cover the entire year. We were going to need something to fill up class time.

My personal Bible reading journey had begun in the book of John. That book is still one of my favorites. I blogged about my experience with John 10:10 here. I thought that If the book of John meant so much to me, it would probably mean a lot to the students as well.

So, we read through John. But, I still needed more material. I thought that the book of Daniel would speak well to 8th grade boys, so we did that next. And, with the time that remained, we read through the book of Revelation. Crazy, right?

Prayer and personal thoughts

Each class and rehearsal began with a prayer. And, each marching band rehearsal started with some personal, devotional thoughts. Sometimes I would share and sometimes a student would share.

Finding something to say became a challenge for me. I would pray and reflect on Bible passages that I had read. Then I would talk about these ideas with the band.

At the overnight competitions we would get together with the parents and I would finish our time together with a devotional thought. It was simultaneously terrifying and exhilarating.


I had to grow a lot. Reading the Bible in class and answering tough questions was like going to graduate school. Those 8th grade boys pushed me with questions that made me dig deep for answers.

Frequent prayer brought me into the consciousness of God’s presence during the day. I grew to love starting classes with prayer. When I left christian school teaching in 2016 and moved into the public schools, the biggest thing I missed was praying out loud. I still pray inside my head, but there is something about praying out loud with a group of students. It sets the tone for the class.

Not for everyone

Christian school band directing isn’t for everyone. You must be a born-again Christian who believes in the power of instilling Christian ideas in young people. Kids can smell a fake. When I looked for assistant directors and staff members, I’d always point them to our school’s application.

The application asked for your personal experience with Jesus Christ. Sometimes the applicant would call me and ask what they should write in that section. I told them to be honest. Don’t fake an answer. You have to be willing to be overtly linked to Jesus Christ and the teachings in the Bible or you’ll hate the job.


I miss Christian school band directing. The Bible study, prayer and sharing of personal reflections about God produced consistent growth in my life. And, I loved hearing about what God was doing in the lives of the students. I was part band director and part youth pastor… and I loved it.

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