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 a middle school band director in her thirty-second year of teaching!
Cheryl Floyd is in her thirty-second year of teaching and her twenty-third year as Director of Bands at Hill Country Middle School in Austin, Texas. Prior to her tenure at Hill Country, she served as Director of Bands at Murchison Middle School, also in Austin, for eight years. Musical organizations under her leadership have consistently been cited for musical excellence at both local contests and national invitational festivals. In 1990 her Murchison program was the recipient of the coveted Sudler Cup Award presented to exemplary middle school band programs by the John Philip Sousa Foundation. The Hill Country Middle School Band has performed at the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in 1998 and 2006, and Music for All’s National Concert Band Festival in 2012, and in November 2014 presented a concert at the prestigious Western International Band Clinic in Seattle, Washington. Mrs. Floyd enjoys an active schedule as an adjudicator, clinician, author, and guest conductor throughout the United States, notably serving as one of the first women guest conductors of the United States Navy Band in Washington, D.C. In 2003, the American Bandmasters’ Association elected her to membership, making her only the fifth female and the first middle school band director to be so honored. She has maintained a keen interest in commissioning new works for concert band and has collaborated with internationally recognized composers in eleven such projects. Mrs. Floyd is a graduate of Baylor University and has done graduate work at the University of Texas in Austin. She is married to kindred spirit and fellow music educator Richard Floyd, and their son Weston is a junior trombone performance major at the University of Texas in Austin.
What is a guiding principle in your music education philosophy?
Kodaly said “Teach the young with the very best!” I interpret this quote 2 different ways; not only should I select the best music available for my students to learn and perform, but I should teach to the best of my ability everyday!
What is one (or more) thing you hope that your students gain from their time with you?
I hope my students see the passion and excitement that I bring to the classroom. We have an active commissioning program here on our campus. We have been involved with seven published commissions as well as two consortium projects. Our students have had the opportunity to meet the composers and participate in the commissioning process and of course the premiere of each piece. I hope they take away that music is alive and well! I hope it inspires them to support music for their lifetimes.
At what moment did you fall in love with being or becoming a music educator?
I think I always wanted to be a teacher...except for that brief moment I wanted to be an astronaut! I enjoyed working with the special education classes at my church when I was in junior high and high school. I do remember taking my youngest sister to band practice the summer before I returned to Baylor for my sophomore year. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to get to study to be a band director!
What advice do you have for a new band director who asks you “What is the one thing you wish someone had told you just starting out?”
Never lose sight of the reasons that you entered this profession! Your love of making music and sharing it with others should remain at the heart of your teaching! Keep playing your instrument…there are lots of community groups who need someone just like you! Keep a journal of the new things you learn and the positive notes and emails you receive from parents and administrators.
What are some of the highlights and memorable moments from your MFA/BOA experiences?
We brought our Hill Country Middle School Symphonic Band to perform at the National Concert Band Festival in March 2012. Our kids loved every minute of that trip! From master classes to audience participation to our concert and the Grand Gala Banquet, they thoroughly enjoyed it all! Plus they loved the daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner…especially the little pies! The video of our concert performance is the most beautiful record of a performance we have! Our Westlake High School Band performed in the San Antonio BOA in 2009 and 2011. Both Dick and I were proud to attend as parents and support our son’s love of music!
The first time I was invited to serve as an evaluator in 2009 was an incredible experience for me…I could not believe that I was going to get to listen to bands and orchestras at the National Concert Band Festival and hang out with the slate of evaluators including; Shelley Berg, Larry Livingston, Gary Green, etc.
As parents, both Dick and I are so proud of our son, Weston Floyd, who performed in the Honor Band of America in 2010 under conductor H. Robert Reynolds, and in the Honors Orchestra of America in 2011 and 2012 as principal trombonist for Larry Livingston. These performances remain lasting memories for our entire family! And Weston remains friends with many of the students he met at those events!
What would you like to see MFA focus on or accomplish in the next 40 years?
I am very excited about the new regional concert band events that have started all over the country. My husband judged at the festival in Chicago in 2014 and then at the Lafayette Festival in 2015. These festivals are encouraging not only more groups to apply for the National Concert Band Festival, but also encourage individual students to apply for the Honors groups. I hope that MFA will continue to provide these experiences for these students and ensembles. In addition, I hope that MFA might look at the possibility of adding middle school bands and orchestras to the regional festivals.