ARCANUM — Arcanum-Butler Schools Band Director Heather Marsh has been recognized by the Recording Academy, a society of music professionals that, among other programs, presents the prestigious Grammy Awards each year.
Marsh was one of 188 quarterfinalists announced for the 2019 Music Educator Award. More than 2,800 nominations were submitted.
The Music Educator Award was established “to recognize teachers who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education, and who demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in the schools,” according to a press release issued by the school district.
The Recording Academy will select 10 finalists and, ultimately, one winner to receive the award; the winner will be flown to Los Angeles to attend the 61st Annual Grammy Awards ceremony in early 2019. The winner also will receive a $10,000 personal honorarium.
Marsh is beginning her third year as band director at Arcanum, having served as assistant band director at Tippecanoe Schools in Miami County for nine years.
“I was ready to not be an assistant anymore. I was ready to run the show and do my own thing,” Marsh said of her decision to move to Arcanum. “When this position opened up, I thought it would be a great program to take overand to help grow and progress.”
Since that time, the Arcanum band program has added a color guard, qualified for a superior rating during state finals for the first time in more than a decade and increased the complexity of the type of shows it performs.
“The most fun part so far has been the progress we’ve made in such a short amount of time,” Marsh said.”Arcanum has historically done very well, but we’ve really worked hard to modernize the program. It’s been a rare occurrence over the last 15 years or so for Arcanum to qualify for state marching band finals, but last year we qualified for a superior rating.”
It takes more to maintain a competitive edge these days, according to Marsh, than it might have done when many of her students’ parents were growing up.
“It used to be that if you marched clean and played well, you’d be successful,” Marsh said. “But now there’s an expectation of putting on a more theatrical type of show.”
To meet those expectations, Marsh and her students organize each year’s performance around a central theme, an idea chosen by her students that is then explored and expanded upon throughout the year. The title of this past year’s show was “Under Construction,” so students integrated orange construction cones, buckets, barrels, trash cans and sawhorses into their performance alongside regular instruments.
“It’s a process that isn’t finished until the end of the season,” Marsh said. “We have great students and great parents and great administrators, and they’ve all been very open to new ideas.”
The theme of this year’s show will be the words we use and how they affect other people.
“I hope it’s going to be very uplifting and help people think about how what they say affects the world,” Marsh said. “I try to teach my kids things about life, not just music. I try to focus on teaching them to be good members of society.”
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