In celebration of Music for All’s 40th Anniversary in 2015, we are featuring profiles of music educators who have made a difference in Music for All and in band and orchestra education. In this post we feature an accomplished director who learned about Bands of America as a student and later in life led his students to three Bands of America Grand National Champion titles.
Jay Webb has been the Director of Bands at Avon High School in Avon, Indiana since 1993. During his years of leadership, the Avon Band has consistently been at the forefront of the the performing arts and has been recognized as one of the premier band programs in the Midwest. Webb brings a variety of experiences ranging with performances with the Bridgemen Drum and Bugle Corps from Bayonne, New Jersey to the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. He has memberships that include Pi Kappa Lambda, Indiana Bandmasters Association, Indiana Music Educators Association, and was the founding member of Indiana Percussion Association.
How long have you been teaching?
I started teaching when I was 17 in 1979, but I’ve been a band director since 1991.
Where do you teach now and where have you taught in the past?
I currently teach at Avon High school in Avon Indiana. Previously I’ve taught at Cooper City High School in Ft. Lauderdale, Jonathan Dayton Regional High School in Springfield, New Jersey, Center Grove High School in Indiana and Sheridan Jr/Sr High School in Indiana.
Where did you go to college? What degrees do you earn?
I received my Bachelors of Music Education from Butler University.
What is one thing you’d say to a new band director who asks you “what is the one thing you wish someone had told you just starting out?”
Be patient. Be more patient with the students, their parents, and especially with administrators.
Tell us about your participation with Music for All and Bands of America.
I saw a poster for a Bands of America (then Marching Bands of America) Championship when I was in high school in 1978 and I asked my band director why we don’t do something like that. He replied, “That’s way too much work!” I have never forgotten that. Later on I worked with the director at Center Grove in 1990, and gave them the opportunity to participate in a Bands of America Regional Competition. We all had a great experience. In 1995, when I finally had my own program, we were on a waiting list to participate in Grand National Championships, but performed in a Regional Championship and received a lot of positive feedback from judges and spectators. Since then, we have strived to continue to push ourselves, our kids, and our program to always be as good as we possibly could be and we finally made finals in 2001. The rest they say is history!
What are some of the highlights and memorable moments from your experiences related to Music for All/Bands of America?
The first thing that stands at the forefront of my mind is making finals the first time and all of the Carmel directors mauling us with high fives and hugs. That was awesome! The pride I felt during our 2009 performance – we were incredible that night! The audience’s reaction during our Adagio/Ode mashup in 2010 was priceless. My band at Grand National Championship finals in 2012 is also at the top of the list – the emotions that the kids and staff shared in the parking lot is one of the highlights of my career. There are many more as well.
What would you like to see Music for All focus on or accomplish in the next 40 years?
To continue to be the standard bearer for excellence in music education! That bar of excellence perceived by a 17 year old, long haired freak sparked a career and a journey that still continues to this day!