By SHERRY DIGMON
Escambia County High School band director Hayley Canterbury hosted her band teacher from Troy University Thursday, September 26.
Actually, Ralph Ford is more than a band teacher. He is a renowned composer, arranger, conductor, and clinician.
Thursday morning, Ford and Canterbury visited the Escambia County Middle School band, under the direction of Sebastian Dobbins. Ford spent about an hour there, and in the afternoon, spent two hours with the high school band.
In Canada and throughout the U.S., Ford visits bands and offers technical advice; listens, gives them information about music they’re playing, and sometimes shares information about composers
And he’s open to questions. “I’m interested in finding out what they want to know,” he said. ” … I like working with kids. They’re usually real bright. They’re here because they want to be, because band is an elective, not a required subject. I like anything that provides a creative outlet for kids, and band does that.”
Ford also sees another facet to being part of a band.
“You have to work with each other, maybe even with people you don’t like,” he said. “It encourages people to get along. You may not like somebody, but in music, you have to work together.”
The ECHS band played a piece and Ford worked on different aspects, sometimes one section a time or one group of instruments at a time.
The session with Ford came just ahead of two rigorous band competitions.
The Blue Devil homecoming game was set for October 4. Though months without significant rain, the area was bombarded with hail and thunderstorms the night of the game. Due to delays, the game lasted until a little after 11:30 p.m.
ECHS principal Dennis Fuqua knew the band had competition the next day and told Canterbury to dismiss the band to go home. That was about the time the band would have left on an ordinary game night.
They did indeed have competition the next day. In fact, they had two competitions, a first for Canterbury and the ECHS band.
The first was at Andalusia High School at 1:30. They scored all Superiors.
When that was over, they boarded the bus and headed to Troy for a 5 p.m. competition. They scored all 1s – all Superiors.
Canterbury is all smiles when she talks about Ralph Ford and his session with her band.
“It was neat for the kids to meet the teacher’s teacher,” she said. “Mr. Ford and I say a lot of the same things.” The kids picked up on that.
A Troy alum, she said it was a great experience seeing the band march on the field where she marched.
The band’s next competition is October 17 in Opp.