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UPCLOSE: RICHARD GOODSTEIN

Josh Harris • August 2002 • August 1, 2002

Photos by Patrick Wright, Anderson, S.C.

Early in his career, Richard Goodstein glimpsed his opportunity to make his mark on music education. While serving as a high school band director in Arizona, he became inspired to teach at the college level, where he hoped he could help shape future generations of music educators.

“I was shocked at the weak public school bands in the area,” Goodstein recalls. “I thought I could make a difference if I went into teacher education at the college level. So I pursued a master’s and eventually a doctorate in music education with a goal of trying to train future band directors.”

As Goodstein describes it, his career “took a left turn” at some point. The first job he landed out of graduate school was in the music department at Clemson University – which has no music education degree program.

“I never had the opportunity, directly, to train future band directors, but I’ve been committed to music education my whole career,” he notes.

As his focus changed, Goodstein realized he wanted to work with a successful marching band program at a football-oriented school. For 10 years, Goodstein directed Clemson’s Tiger Marching Band, which performed in several bowl games during that time. During the summers, beginning in 1987, he took on the role of musical director for the All-American College Band and the All-American College Orchestra at Walt Disney World in Florida.

“It was 11 years that I grew as a musician and it was a wonderful experience,” Goodstein says. “I got to work with some of the finest college musicians in the country.”

The 20-piece band and the 40-piece orchestra performed throughout the Magic Kingdom and at the Epcot Center for 12 weeks each summer. The band performed six shows a day from parades to sit-down concerts to casual shows on street corners in the park. The orchestra often shared the stage with national artists, such as Carol Channing and Marvin Hamlish, whom Goodstein had the opportunity to direct.

“The Disney Corporation is such a terrific resource. They have such success in the entertainment field that I took so much from that program, in addition to the great music that we performed,” he reflects. “I brought back to the academic setting the commitment to excellence, ‘the show must go on,’ all the things you learn from a professional organization like Disney that transcend academics. One of the mantras I’ve taken with me is ‘Exceeding Expectations.’ That’s something I’ve tried to incorporate here at Clemson. We try to be more than what people expect.”

Goodstein’s experiences with both the Disney and Clemson bands helped him to rise through the ranks to his current position, chair of the department of performing arts at Clemson University. Fifteen full-time faculty and 13 adjunct faculty comprise the department, which offers music and theater programs geared toward non-majors. The department is associated with the Brooks Center for Performing Arts and sponsors an estimated 85 events a year, from student ensembles to national Broadway tours, according to Goodstein.

Up until this year, the performing arts department did not offer a degree in music or theater. During the past 10 years, Goodstein has helped develop a new degree in Production Studies in Performing Arts.

“We’ve never had any kind of a music or theater degree at Clemson University and it’s something that I think is really needed in this portion of the southeast and the state of South Carolina,” he points out. “We’re a state school, and people are always amazed at the quality of our performing ensembles with a non-major program. Offering the degree was the next natural step for us.”

The degree program will combine applied lessons and hands-on experience through the Brooks Center, culminating in a final senior project of a full-scale musical theater production for the community.

“The students are going to have to do everything from writing a script and writing the music to performing, lighting, staging, costumes, marketing and ticket sales,” Goodstein explains. “We’re thrilled with the direction we’ve taken with this degree.”

His latest responsibility as chair of the department will be to administer the new degree program.

“I’m really excited and I’m going to invest my energy and time into making sure that our new degree is successful.”

School Band and Orchestra: What career path did you follow to get where you are today?

Goodstein: I was a high school director and then I pursued graduate degrees. When I was getting ready to graduate with my doctorate, I applied for every job out there. I knew I wanted to work with a large marching band in a big football school. That’s what my goal was. The Clemson University job was the first offer I had, and I accepted it because they were just coming off the national football championship in 1981. I knew that they were a very high-visibility, big football program and big marching band school. From my experience as a college band director for 16 years here at Clemson, I developed a desire to pursue administration along the way. I had some success as a high school and then a college band director and I wanted to see where my career would go next. Administration fit my particular needs at that time.
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SBO: What have been some of the challenges as you’ve worked your way to this position?

Goodstein: I think in any organization there’s a bureaucracy, especially in institutions of higher education. Being a band director, you’re kind of your own boss and you make or break your own success. You’re responsible for creating the product and being creative. And a lot of times, it’s a team effort. So you have to create a culture of excellence and creativity that you need to have the others who are working with you buy into. The challenge is having people share your vision and share your idea for the future. I think it’s popularly called “visionary leadership,” using a longer time span. At the collegiate level, a lot of professors have their own creative projects and so that’s what they’re into – working with their students and really trying to get the best out of their product. As a unit, it’s much like working with a band: you need to bring all the members of your unit forward – with a collective vision – to the next level.

I think being a marching band director was the hardest job I’ve ever had – the kinds of pressure and time issues and trying to be creative year after year, and trying to come up with a new halftime show concept. Here at Clemson, we do a different show for each home game. Just cranking out the shows and trying to be creative and trying to keep students motivated, trying to keep the alumni happy, trying to keep the administration happy – there are so many different ways that you can fall into a rut and get discouraged.

The idea of having a passion for what you do and really being committed to what you’re doing at the time, that’s what gets you through a lot of the hard times. I’ve always been successful because the students have been great. It’s important to develop that kind of relationship where you’ve got the culture of excellence in your program so the students want to be there, they want to get better, and when new students come into the program there’s this expectation and this culture that you’ve built into the program. That’s a long-term type of proposal, but I think for an aspiring music educator or administrator, those same skills that you take to be successful at that level will serve you well in the future.

SBO: What lessons have you learned that have helped you to progress in your career?

Goodstein: One of the things that I took as a band director that I’ve used as an administrator are time-management skills. As a band director, there’s a football game on Friday night or on Saturday afternoon and that football game’s not going away. You work with that deadline and you know what has to be accomplished from point A to point B. Those kind of time-management and organizational skills I learned being a band director have really served me well. Being detail-oriented is critical. Any band director knows that when you organize a trip to take your students on – whether it’s a Friday night football game or cross-country or overseas on a tour – there are a million details that have to be attended to and any one of them is a potential pitfall. Having those experiences and knowing that you have to be detail-oriented, and taking a wide view of all the potentials, has really served me well as an administrator.

The other thing as a college band director that has served me really well is understanding that there are numerous stakeholders and constituents out there who are really important. Of course, the students are the priority, but there are a lot of people at a college football game who only care about what they hear – they might want to hear the fight song. And as the administration you have to make sure that your students are good ambassadors of the university, whether they’re at home or on a road trip. You have alumni – you have to uphold the traditions of the band program. There are so many different stakeholders that you have to take a wide view and it makes you politically astute about what kind of things will make you successful beyond the narrower view of just the marching band program.

SBO: What are some of the highlights of your career thus far?

Goodstein: There have been a lot of them. I’ve been so blessed to have a lot of opportunities. Back in 1986, I had the opportunity to work with the musical group that was participating in the rededication of the Statue of Liberty. That was a month-long project. We had a 500-piece marching band doing a show on July 4th weekend in the Meadowlands. We were actually at Governor’s Island when President Reagan rededicated the Statue. That was an unbelievable experience and it whet my appetite for big projects like that, and professionalism. The show was on television and it was a terrific show. It was a very large band with band members from almost every college in the country. Band directors got to nominate two students for this band so it was a very high level of musicianship. And that led to my Disney career. Through contacts I made at that Statue of Liberty experience, I got into Disney. During that whole 11-year experience at Disney, each summer was a highlight. I just have so many fond memories of my experiences there and the people I met.

Here at Clemson, having worked with the marching band for that many years was very successful. During my first years here, the football team was in the top 10. I think I’ve been to 14 or 15 bowl games. The success here and the contacts I made with different college band directors around the country have just been a great experience. I feel fortunate to be a part of what I think is a great profession.

Finally, as an administrator, the advent of this degree is a dream come true for many of us here at Clemson University. I’ve worked very hard to make that happen and I think it’s a career accomplishment to have helped make that happen.

SBO: What words of advice do you have for music directors at the primary and secondary levels who are interested in pursuing a career at the college level?

Goodstein: I think it’s true in any field: to network, to really develop a core group of professional colleagues who you can call on for help and advice. One thing that’s really helped me in my career is to adopt a mentor or several mentors – whether it’s a college band director or a peer you really respect – but to adopt someone who you can really learn from and grow together with. I think that’s really important. Be disciplined. One of the things that I’ve found is really important is to set goals and to stick to them. Some of the research I’ve done is on leadership and one of the books that sticks out in my mind is called “In Search of Excellence,” by Peters and Waterman. Those kinds of books – that have nothing to do with music – are very important just to understand leadership and how to deal with people.

SBO: Having been a high school and college marching band director, what kinds of things have you learned about being an administrator that you think would be helpful to share with directors?

Goodstein: I think one reason why band directors make great administrators is because they’ve gone through the trials and tribulations and they’re so detail-oriented. That myriad of details that administrators have to go through really doesn’t faze them at all.

There’s advice I remember getting when I was a high school band director: the first two people you want to make friends with are your principal and your janitor. You need to develop a relationship with your principal and your administration. You don’t have to be friends, but you have to help them understand what you do. Back when I was teaching in the public schools, many of the administrators had come through the athletic program and they really didn’t understand what the band program was all about. Inviting them to be a part of your program in whatever level you can to make them see how important this is for young people I think is critical.

Clemson’s Tiger Marching Band

SBO: How do you recruit students into the marching band?

Goodstein: We don’t do a lot of high school recruiting because Clemson is a fairly competitive school for admission. What we normally do is, once the students have been admitted to the university, we develop a database of students who have had high school marching band experience. We do a phone-a-thon, a mail blitz, as many different ways to get them on campus and understand what a college band is and how much different it is from a high school band. A lot of students come to us – at least in South Carolina, because it’s such a competition-heavy state – not understanding that college band is a lot different. There are no competitions, its focus is completely different and there’s less of a time commitment in many respects than what was going on in high school. Kids come to us and they’re so burned-out having done the same show all year long and they’re saying, “I can’t do this again.” Then they get into our program and it opens their eyes and they say, “I can’t believe it. This is really fun.”

It’s a challenge because today a lot of students think marching band at the college level is going to take up too much time and affect their academic program in a negative way. We’ve found, through research, that their grades actually increase during marching season. But to get that message across to the parents and the students is a challenge.

SBO: How long is your marching season?

Goodstein: Band camp starts in August – the day the dorm opens. Marching season lasts until the end of the football season. If the team makes it to a bowl game, the season ends Jan. 1. Our athletic department’s very generous about allowing us to bring the students in to the bowl sites for a couple of days of rehearsal to get ready for the bowl game.

SBO: What is the rehearsal schedule like?

Goodstein: We rehearse three days a week – Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 4 to 6 p.m. Our drum line and our flag corps and twirlers have an extra rehearsal. We also rehearse a run-through before each game on Saturday morning.

SBO: How often does the band travel to do away-game shows, parades and other performances?

Goodstein: We have a unique situation in that we do perform at every home game and then we send a group – whether it’s the whole band or not – to every away game. For the big games – which for us would be Florida State, North Carolina, Georgia Tech – we’ll send the full band. We’ll send at least a 60 to 80-piece pep band to every away game. We’ve gone as far as Tokyo. We played Duke in what was called the Coca-Cola Bowl, but was just a regular season game in Tokyo, Japan, and we were able to take 80 band students to that game. We’ve been to all the bowl games, of course. We get a lot of terrific support from the university, financially, and in knowing that music and the marching band is an important part of what Clemson University is.

We also do the First Friday Parade, which is an on-campus parade to celebrate the first weekend of football at Clemson. It’s about a mile and half and it ends in a pep rally. And that’s it as far as parades go. We have marched in the Governor’s Inauguration for the state. We marched at a NASCAR race one time at the invitation of the major donor of our building here. Typically, we do the football games and the one parade. Some special events occasionally.

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