“Music is the vehicle I get to use to teach students valuable life lessons,” said Allen. “Those lessons include not just music, but how to be a better person, to work hard and to be good at things.”
Hicks added, “My favorite part about being a teacher is when we push students to do their best, and maybe they are struggling, but then the light comes on and they just get it. That makes me feel awesome.”
Under the direction of Allen, the wind ensemble received an invitation to attend the prestigious Music for All Festival in Indianapolis March 9-11, 2017. Presented by Yamaha, the festival is the largest showcase of top high school bands in the nation. The students are currently fundraising and seeking sponsorships to help cover trip costs.
“The festival is one of the most prestigious band events in the nation and to be invited as a featured band is a huge honor and accomplishment. I couldn’t be more proud of the students for their hard work and dedication.”
At the festival, the Willis wind ensemble will perform multiple arrangements over a 40 minute period. According to Allen, the students will need to spend a significant amount of time preparing for the trip. “We normally prepare 4-5 songs for football and marching season,” Allen explained. “That will triple this year in preparation for the festival. It’s a lot of work, but I’m confident they are up for the challenge.”
The festival will provide Willis High School band members with many educational opportunities as they perform and receive feedback from world-class conductors, attend music lectures and witness performances by some of the finest musicians in the nation.
“Our students and teachers are accomplishing great things every day,” said Tim Harkrider, Superintendent. “We are so proud of our students and of Mr. Allen for his efforts to grow the band into a nationally-recognized group of performers.”