TKA 2012 and family

Mom and Dad came to our first show at Lely HS in Naples. My sister and her son were there as well as my Cousins, Pete and Debbie. Mom is flanked by our drum majors from the 2012 band. TKA 2012 family.

The King’s Academy (TKA) 2012 marching season was a high point for my family. I had moved my young family to this Florida school in 2000. Now my kids were in their teen years and part of the band program.

Mom and Dad

Dad was a payroll supervisor at Fisher Body outside of Pittsburgh. That’s what he did for a paycheck to supported his wife and five kids. Mom had various jobs ranging from managing a clothing store to being a waitress. I visited them at work a few times and they seemed well liked. And, they looked like they were good at what they did.

That’s how Mom and Dad paid bills and put food on the table. But, what they loved was music. They both loved to sing and dance. Dad sang solos in church and Mom would sing along with records that she played on the stereo. (A LOT of Kenny Rogers!).

Dad was a saxophone player and drum major in high school. Mom had tried trombone for a short period of time, but quit in a failed attempt to be a cheerleader. So, music is in my family’s blood.

My family

My wife (Brenda) didn’t grow up immersed in music. But, she wanted the kids to be a part of the positive environment that band provided. So, my son (Kent) played saxophone and my daughter (Joella) played flute. Brenda was great with a camera so she became the band’s unofficial photographer.

Kent joined the marching band in 2011 and Joella followed in 2012. Now my entire family was involved in the thing I loved greatly, MARCHING BAND!

TKA 2011/2012

The 2011 season of the TKA Marching Lions was going to be our year. We had finished 2nd in the state in 2010 and most of our talented musician/performers were returning. This was going to be like shooting fish in a barrel.

But, we fell to 8th in the state in 2011 and missed finals by a mile. I’ll write more about that at some point. It was a difficult year. I found myself doing a serious postmortem after the 2011 season to figure out what went wrong.

I made the controversial decision to pick a much easier musical book for the next year. We were going to return to simple, straightforward ideas. And, I was going to trust my instincts in regard to show design. I had allowed myself to be influenced in 2011 and made decisions that I instinctively knew weren’t going to be easy to pull off.

That wasn’t going to happen again.

2012 season

I braced myself for a tough year. We had a good group of seniors, but they didn’t look as strong on paper as the previous year. I was concerned that we would fall even lower in the state rankings.

All of this was going through my mind while I watch my children perform. I wanted them to experience the joy of being in a top level organization. My experience in high school had a positive influence on me. I feared that they would be members of a below average band.

The band practiced hard and the program came together smoothly. We were strong competitors throughout the season, but there would be bands at states that we hadn’t seen all year. I was cautiously optimistic.


I always tried to get my parents to come and see the band perform. They lived close to our semi-finals performance location, so Mom and Dad agreed to come and watch. I was honored to have them there, especially since Mom was in a wheelchair which would make it a tough day for both of them.

They came over after the performance and visited with the kids. The pictures from those moments still produce a tidal wave of emotions. Mom said we were, “the best band she saw that day”. Dad said we were, “sharp!”.

Mom and Dad with Kent
Watching me talk to the band after our semi-finals performance


This was the first and last time that my parents were present during one of my band’s awards ceremonies. I directed marching bands for 26 years and have been through well over 100 awards ceremonies. A few stand out: Band of the day in Franklin County, Virginia. Class A regional Bands of America Champions in Johnson City, Tennessee. Best music in Class A states in 2008.

None of these can compare to the uncontrollable emotions I felt when we placed 2nd in our class that day. I was surrounded by the people and the things that I loved. I found myself weeping uncontrollably.

This activity has had a profound effect on me. In many ways I owe it my life. In a way, it has been my life. That hasn’t always been a good thing, I’ve definitely had to reign myself in more than once.

But, man alive the experiences were so powerful!

TKA 2012 leadership at State finals

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