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Web Spotlight: Fannin County Bands

Mike Lawson • March 2002 • March 1, 2002

SBO Internet Sitings
LONDON CALLING-VIA THE WEB

Spotlight on the Fannin County Bands
URL: www.fannincountyband.org

The most recent Web site to grab our attention here at School Band and Orchestra magazine is a family effort brought to us by husband and wife band directors Elden and Wanda Moates and their daughter Amy, the Webmaster. Elden directs the Fannin County (Georgia) High School Band, and his wife, Wanda, directs the Fannin County Middle School Band. They’ve been working in music education in the town of Blue Ridge for almost 27 years. Their daughter, a Fannin County band alumna, was inspired to design a band Web site for her parents’ programs after taking an instructional technology course while pursuing a graduate degree in school psychology.

“When I finished the class, I decided I wanted to design a Web site,” Amy recalls. “In the meantime, I was calling home and talking to my parents about what was going on with the band program and was becoming nostalgic, amazed that I had been out of the high school band for five years. I decided I would design a band Web site, and called my parents to let them know. They seemed surprised but pleased.”

Right about now, every director reading this column is probably wishing they had a daughter or son with similar ambitions. Amy had the Web site ready for Internet publication within a month (July, 2000). Using Microsoft FrontPage software, she worked on the Web site for about three hours a week. She made an outline of the information she wanted to include on the site and asked her parents for photographs to feature.

When the site finally went live on the Internet, Amy called her parents and, “We perused every page together while on the phone.” This year, alumni member Shannon DeWitt, who owns GoLive Networks, got the band its own domain name, allowing Amy to remove all advertisements from the site. He also implemented some of the site’s newer features, including the calendar and forum.

From her parents’ standpoint, one of the most valuable aspects of the bands’ Web site is its global appeal. On Jan. 1, 2002, the band marched in the London, England, New Year’s Day Parade. Through the Web site, the directors and their students were able to communicate with parents and friends back home and share their experiences through an online journal. The timing of the band’s trip made this special feature particularly important.

“After the tragic events of September 11, there were some concerns about continuing with our London trip,” Elden explains. “I was interested in promoting a sense of peace about the trip and suggested that we use the Web site as a medium for sending messages to family and friends back home. Amy thought it was a fabulous idea and we researched what we would need to make our ‘Shout Out’ page happen.”

A European Travel Connection Kit, which contained a power adapter and a phone adapter for several countries, including the United Kingdom, was employed for this purpose. Every evening in London, students were given access to the Moates’ laptop to type in friendly messages – which Amy posted on the Web site – for friends and family to view at home.

“I have received notes as well as exclamations of delight from many community members who claim that they lived vicariously through our London journal, pictures and ‘Shouts Out’ from the students,” Wanda notes. “Many people looked forward to the daily posting of the journal as they followed our travels. This sharing of adventures has led to an even greater level of [community] support.”

As Wanda points out, the Web site also enables former students to stay connected to the band program.

“We have taught some of the most dedicated musicians imaginable throughout the years and, despite certain hardships, we were able to achieve a quality program. We do not want to forget those earlier students’ contributions to the success and continuity of the band program through bad times and good. The Web site allows them to continue to feel a part of a tradition they helped to establish,” she says.

Other features worth exploring on the Web site include the detailed calendar of events and the Forum. A recent addition, the Forum is an online discussion board that allows students to post messages and communicate with Fannin County Band members as well as students from “visiting” high school bands. More than 2,000 messages have been posted in the Web site’s three forums since their implementation.

“That has been a big hit with the kids,” Amy reveals.

The future of the Fannin County Bands Web site will be filled with even more sights – and possibly even sounds – of the student musicians.

“Our Web site has been a great source of pride and excitement and I hope that we can soon incorporate sound and video to reach out as a recruiting tool to prospective members and their parents,” Amy adds. “I am not interested in glitz, just substance and fun.”

Last month, SBO featured www.pgband.com, the online home of the Pleasant Grove Marching Spartans. Be sure to check out this site online: it’s extremely comprehensive with a variety of innovative features that other school music Web sites would do well to emulate.

School Band and Orchestra would like to take this opportunity to thank the many directors and Webmasters who have e-mailed their Web site URLs to us. Stay tuned next month for a special edition of Internet Sitings, which will feature a select few of the exceptional sites that have been sent our way.

If you would like to submit your school music Web site for consideration
in School Band and Orchestra’s Web spotlight feature, please contact Editor Christian Wissmuller by e-mail at cwissmuller@symphonypublishing.com.

Web Spotlight ( a.k.a. Internet Sitings) appeared on pages 10 – 12 in the March issue of School Band and Orchestra.

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