Perspective: GetBanded

Mike Lawson • Commentary • June 16, 2014

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In the January 2014 issue of SBO, I wrote an editorial titled “The Music Ecosystem.” The idea behind this was to take a moment to consider the many people who contribute to a healthy school music program. These include the director and school music staff, parents and boosters, private instructors, retailers and repair techs who provide and service instruments and accessories, those product manufacturers who are continually innovating in order to meet the needs of student musicians and school programs, administrators who manage funding, staffing, and scheduling, and even corporate donors and sponsors.

Shortly after that issue was published, I found myself at the NAMM Show, the annual music products industry convention in Anaheim, California.

There, in addition to laying the groundwork for the annual Best Tools for Schools presentation, I also had the opportunity to chat with a number of instrument manufacturers. Perhaps it should not have been surprising to me that I would find so many other people in the music industry who had similar ideas to the one I had just written about: the importance of actively acknowledging and bringing together all members of the school music community. Chief among them was Mike Robinson, the director of marketing for KHS America, the company behind Jupiter band and wind instruments, Mapex Drums, and Majestic Concert Percussion. In case you haven’t yet heard of it, Jupiter’s latest PR push, which was unveiled at that same NAMM Show, is called “Banded.”

“The ‘Banded’ campaign highlights the common ground shared among musicians, music educators, parents of musicians, school music retailers, and Jupiter,” notes a press release on “The campaign demonstrates Jupiter’s brand values and how their role is aligned with all aspects of music education, the lives of musicians, and the love of music.”

A quick look through the comments on Jupiter’s Facebook page (, on which the company urges people to tell their musical story with the hashtag “#getbanded,” reveals some common themes: a child begins playing an instrument around fifth grade, sticks with it through high school, and then 20 or 30 or 40 years later, he or she is still hooked on music. What stands out, though, is not just the instrument they chose, or, in many cases, even the music itself; those who participate in the activity also gain membership into an exclusive community.

“The guys I met in high school band are still my best friends today,” writes one person.

Another marvels at the exhilaration of participating in their school marching band as a drum major: “I auditioned to be a drum major, which turned into an experience that I will never forget. I found that I loved standing in front of the band conducting them, doing everything I could to give them the best performance they could.”

A third chimes in, “School band has been one of the most fulfilling and influential experiences ever, teaching me much about not only music, but teamwork, leadership, and knowing how to have a great time!”

Some people, a select few, are clearly entranced and emboldened by the power of the music itself. For many others, though, membership into this community, which is marked by teamwork, discipline, growth, achievement, and the thrill of performance, is the primary reward of participating in school music offerings. And this holds true not only for the performers themselves, but also their legions of supporters, whether they be parents, directors, sponsors, store owners, instrument manufacturers, or even trade publication editors. 



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