Aerosol hair spray. Out of everything that takes me back to those days, nothing gets me the way the smell of aerosol hair spray does. When I smell it I instantly think of packed buses, damp grass, makeup, and the feeling one gets from the adrenaline rush of performing in front of a large audience of people.
Today is the day we celebrate the retirement from the 30 years of Mr. John Miller’s work at American Fork as the Director of the Bands. What Mr. Miller was able to accomplish over these 30 years is just astounding. He was able to take this band program to a serious level that was recognized throughout the country. More than that though, he created a program that empowers students to believe in themselves. I was one such student.
To this day I don’t know how I auditioned to be apart of the color guard team. I was a shy nerdy girl who would never put herself out there like that! I played the bassoon in Jr. High
because I wanted to be a part of this marching band program that I had heard so much about growing up and that came to our elementary school and made the gymnasium floors vibrate from the loud sound waves. Then, it turned out that bassoon was one of the two instruments that can’t be in marching band so that ruined my plans.
There was a girl next to me in band, Mary, who played the other instrument that can’t be in marching band and she asked if I wanted to audition for color guard with her. I thought that would be the only way to be a part of the marching band and I went for it. I auditioned and made it as an alternate.
That winter season of color guard was one of the hardest times I had ever encountered. I worked extremely hard to get my uncoordinated body to easily flow through the most basic of motions. All the hard work paid off in the end and I was able to make it to the show and compete despite being an alternate.
The hard work did not stop there and each new step of the marching band and winter guard progress was more difficult. The band program taught me hard work and that if I wanted to succeed, it did not come without a lot of blood, sweat, tears and lots and lots of bruises! I was eventually able to work my way up and became one of the captains of the team for several years with my friend Mary.
During my years participating in the band program both in color guard and playing bassoon in band class, I was able to build so many relationships. Before I was a part of the band program I only had a handful of friends and was socially never able to put myself out there to make new friends. In band you are surrounded by so many amazing and dedicated people and when you spend more time with them than you do your own family, you build bonds that make a difference in who you become.
Being in a leadership position I learned a lot about how to be a good leader. Mr. Miller made sure that if we were in a leadership position that we knew how to be a good leader in all aspects of our life. I remember him giving me a good calling out for picking
and choosing what I improved on and what example that set for those under me. I still to this day remember that instance and it taught me that being a leader is not about you but those you work with. I use that wisdom every day in my job and marriage.
The last thing I have to say about Mr. Miller is the fact that I greatly admire how he handled everything in 2009 when tragedy struck our band. Leading 200 students on a daily basis and watching a fourth of them get hurt in a bus accident and losing a friend and an assistant band director could not have been easy for him. He was honest with us about his feelings and he was there for us when we needed him. He helped all of us heal and led us through that very difficult time in the best way possible. That just shows how incredible of leader he was.
I can honestly say that I would not be who I am today without his program. It helped me gain a confidence in myself that I didn’t have before and taught me how to be the best person I could be. All that hard work paid off and I can still see that rewards from it.
Thank you Mr. Miller for making a difference in my life!