Today’s guest post is from our 2012 Patrick John Hughes Parent/Booster Award Winner – PJ Littleton from Franklin, Tennessee. Learn more about the Parent/Booster Award here.


Everything I ever needed to know, I learned at Band Camp.

“Let me leave you with this piece of advice: Set your goals high because it is very likely that you will achieve them. Make sure that whatever you aspire to do with your life (and it won’t be marching band) that it is noble and worthy of the time and investment that you will make in it. If you compromise this, I promise you that in the end you will feel empty and disappointed for not challenging yourself to be all that your potential would have allowed. Don’t let this happen.  You are better than this. Give your life away for something good!”

I sat restlessly fidgeting in my seat in the Creative Arts Center Concert Hall at West Virginia University while these words were being spoken from the dimly lit stage by then Director of Bands, the legendary Don Wilcox. I just wanted to get outside, learn drill, play my horn. Hey, it was the first day of Band Camp. This was no time for a long lecture. Let’s get on the field and do this!

Our “Chief” knew better.

Funny how thirty-four years later I have long since forgotten my dots in the drill, but these wise words still resonate deep within my core and have helped guide and shape me as a man, as a husband and as a father. This is just one of many lessons I learned while buzzing my pursed lips behind a mouthpiece.

Today you can find me in Franklin, Tennessee, straddling myself between two bands, The Hillsboro Middle School Band and The Franklin High School Band where I respectively serve as Band Booster President and VP of Fundraising. These days have become the days of my life as I aim to apply everything I learned from being in the band so long ago, now for the betterment of not only my two band kids but for the other 339 kids that I love.

Honestly, I’m tired. Really tired. I am sitting in the back row of the balcony of the fabulous restored Franklin Theatre right now, my face aglow from my iPad, listening to FHS alum and daughter of Vince Gill, Jenny Gill perform for a Franklin Football fundraising music event called “Punt, Pass and Pick.” Jenny just spoke of how much it meant to her attending Franklin High where she kept so busy with cheerleading et al that she was able to stay out of trouble and make great memories of her time in school. Some of our current Franklin Band set the tone tonight, kicking off the evening lining the aisles with spirited Rebel music to energize the crowd as they so ably do!

It’s been mentioned more than once between songs how laudable it is that our Franklin parents care enough about their children to go to such great lengths to provide the very best experiences for them. We have been able to establish an inspirational and cooperative culture that will nourish not only the football program tonight but the equally admired (and respected) band program as well. This is a rare and wonderful thing–we are so blessed that we can boast of this.

The 45 graduated seniors from last season’s BOA Jacksonville Regional Champions and Grand Nationals semi-finalist Franklin Band collectively received in excess of $5.6 million dollars in scholarship funds. This is an average of $125,000 per musician scholar! I contend that they too may have learned a few things at Band Camp as they now embark on the next season of their young lives.

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Core Value #1 at The Franklin Band is Community — “The community in which we live and our own community within Franklin High School shape who we are and in return, we shape it.” I witnessed community at its finest tonight as I sat next to a fellow band booster executive board member as he shared band challenges and victories with a football booster standing behind him, listening with mutual appreciation, admiration and respect.

These are some of the things that I learned about life at Band Camp and this is indeed all I ever needed to know. And you know Mr. Wilcox, as it turns out, it was all about marching band for me after all!

“The only ones among you that will really be happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.” — Albert Schweitzer

– PJ Littleton


We thank PJ for his perspective, the Franklin community is lucky to have such a great advocate! To learn more about PJ, read his 2012 Parent/Booster award story. Know an amazing advocate of your music program? Learn more about the Patrick John Hughes Parent/Booster award and how to nominate someone here.