SPIRIT OF ALABAMA: TUSCALOOSA COUNTY’S AWARD-WINNING BAND IS ONE BIG FAMILY
By WVUA 23 Reporter Kayla Smith
Anyone who walks into the band room at Tuscaloosa County High School can tell that the wind ensemble practicing there is talented. The music is beautiful, and for more proof of their skill as musicians, look no further than the trophies and banners that line the walls. The Tuscaloosa County wind ensemble has received state and national recognition for its performances this year.
The band has had a remarkable season this year. The wind ensemble was one of six bands in the state chosen to perform before the Alabama Music Educators Association in Montgomery. The band has also been selected from a national pool to receive the Mark of Excellence Wind Band Honors from the Foundation for Music Education.
They play several pieces that are on a collegiate level. One of their performances may only last a minute or two, but the band spends months preparing them for an audience.
“You’re also dealing with high school students, so you want to start out with a lot of preparation time which means that you start very early on being able to get your hard program set in time,” said Emily Gray, the associate band director.
The young musicians and band directors spend a lot of time together. They collaboratively work to bring the music to life, to create memorable performances. And somewhere in the midst of this creative process, they get to know each other, and the resulting relationships make the band stronger.
“I’m not afraid to say it, and I always tell them out motto is that we’re a family and families love each other and I love you,” Band Director Mike Guzman said. “But there are times when we don’t always agree. Sometimes when there’s a lot of tension that’s part of being an adult and that’s part of being a human and that’s part of being a family.”
Guzman has worked with many of these kids since they were in 5th grade, and he says that it’s incredibly rewarding to watch them grow as musicians and as people.
Most students would agree that there are teachers you encounter in school that make a lasting impact on your life. In this band, the students admire their director’s passion for music, but they will remember him for the way he cares about them.
“He’s such an amazing man. He’s like a father figure to me,” band student Savannah Swindle said. “He’s such a great role model towards me and all of the other band members in this band.”
Guzman’s passion for helping his students is always evident.
“In the end we truly love him for who he is, what he does, how he loves this program and the kids,” Julia Dominguez said.
Tuscaloosa County High School loves its band, and the students realize that it’s all about loving each other.