Sep 19 2007
05:17 pm

But they should have.

A proposal for a consolidated high school located adjacent to Roane State is being floated around the County. It would combine RCHS, Rockwood, and Harriman high schools, but everybody has to wonder what it would be called and who would coach the football team...

I am pretty sure it will happen right after we get metro government in Roane County...something that is obviously a slam dunk for the taxpayers but is unlikely to happen. Too many of the old guard would have to give up what passes for power around here.

And anyway...everybody knows that combining three towns into one would never work.

Yea, but...

That sure would make for an awesome, award-winning High school Band!

There IS an awesome, award-winning high school band...

And it is directed by Zach Williamson in Kingston. That's neither here nor there in an argument over whether or not to have a consolidated high school.

But, truth be told, although Zach's band is at present the undisputed champion band in the county, the bands in Harriman and Rockwood are directed by energetic, talented folks who are working hard. Those two bands have improved a lot in the last 2-3 years, and are close to giving the RCHS band a run for its money. But the RCHS band has been all over the world winning awards and honors for Roane County. For years.

The Younger Williamson comes from a musical family, the eldest of which led the band program in Harriman for years, when it was the undisputed champion of high school bands and was WAY ahead of its time in quality of programs in the concert hall and on the marching field. Zach's older brother Jim plays trumpet professionally in Nashville for several groups and is a talented arranger.

Awesome bands are not about the future in Roane county - they are here and now.


Not meant to be negative

Oops. I did not mean anything derogatory toward any of the High School Bands in Roane County.

Let me explain myself. As good as the bands are individually, imagine what they could do together!

I was incredibly fortunate to have been a band student under the direction of Uncle Willie (as we all lovingly called Mr. Williamson). The Rhapsody in Blue scored straight Ones in competition frequently during my years there. Many awesome stories to tell, but I digress...

Studies have shown that learning to read music improves student performance in other academic subjects. Band students are more likely to to attend college than non-band students. There are many benefits to music programs in schools. And not everyone can play ball.

Sadly, over the past 20 years, band programs are on the decline nationally. It seems one of the first programs in any school that are hit by funding cuts are music programs.

When I was in band in Harriman in the late 70's/early 80's, we complained about the condition of the chairs and equipment. They are still using the same chairs and much of the same equipment today.

At state competitions, our students admire all the bells and whistles other county bands pull out of their hats. Not to mention the paid assistants for specific sections of the bands, and the fancy equipment trailers. Many of these big bands, padded with much more funding than ours, are the only band in their county. Our county has to support five bands.

Last year in Harriman close to 20% of the student population participated in band. The national average is 10%. And Harriman marches at some football games where the opposing team's school does not have a band! They shake cans or something when their team scores.

But because of the size of the band (not the size of the school), Harriman does compete against big bands. I don't intend to whine, but just paint a more clear picture. I know bells and whistles don't make a band. But when you've got enough talented, dedicated students to compete on that level, they deserve to be funded a little closer to that level.

Kudos to Roane County for managing to maintain a level of student interest in such valuable band programs at not just one, or two high schools, but FIVE.

I can't help but believe that the legend left by Uncle Willie lives on today in our band programs across the county. Many of his former students now have a band student of their own in one of the five high schools, and the spirit is passed down.

Awesome bands are here and now, but they are unfairly underfunded because the money is stretched among too many.

My apologies I took so many words explain myself.

"What this town needs is a

"What this town needs is a band!"

May I have your attention, please?
Attention, please.
I can deal with this trouble, friends,
with the wave of my hand, this very hand
Please observe me, if you will
I'm Professor Harold Hill
and I'm here to organize a River City(Roane County) Boys(and girls too) Band

It's all here

AND, there's another band...

Named after the river that runs between Harriman and Kingston, the Emory river. The Babahatchie Community Band draws members from several counties, and had folks ranging in age from high school to folks who have retired a long time ago. This group of volunteers continues to play good band music because it's so much fun. Those who know the world of community bands well in this country say it's truly amazing that Roane County has such a band that has stuck together for over 2 decades and is able to play music of such quality.

As a matter of fact, they have their last outdoor concert of the year this coming Sunday at the David Webb Riverfront Park in Harriman. Starts at 3PM.


Ah, grasshopper...

Methinks you doth apologize where none is needed.

Roaneviews readers understand your meaning and intent. I suspect Mr. Booster just wanted to get in some plugs for his favorites.

But think about the halftime show (which IS why people got to football games, IMHO) with a 250 member marching band!

Well, actually...

I wanted to make sure folks didn't misunderstand and that they didn't mistakenly assume that there were not high quality,award-winning bands right here right now. I'm grateful to grasshopper for the amplification and wonderful comments!

ALL of 'em are my favorites! We DO have a special heritage in Roane County of excellent music programs... as always, they go in cycles. At one school it may be an up cycle while at another school it may be in a down cycle. But we have been blessed with good band programs in Roane.

I love a good halftime show, too. Have marched in 1 or 2, for that matter. Big bands are good! They're easier to work with, i.e. to design drills for, in a way. More flexible, I guess is the best word, in what you can design them to do in motion.


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