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Band director blends music, teaching

October 04, 2005|By MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

BOONSBORO - Although music was his first passion, Heath Wilcox said he prepared himself for a teaching career for practical reasons.

"Teaching is the way I can make a living with my music," Wilcox said.

In his second year as band director at Boonsboro High School, Wilcox said he is proud to be on board for this year's 65th anniversary of the band.

With a long history of excellence, the band has had the benefit of years under the baton of Phil Wilks, who left the school in 1994. Since then, John Eckstine and Stasha Schiller-Stinson made their marks on the band's performance quality.

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Wilcox, 26, grew up in Waynesboro, Pa.

He and his wife, Lynn, who teaches fourth grade at Winter Street Elementary School in Hagerstown, now live in Fayetteville, Pa. Before settling in this area, Wilcox and his wife taught for three years in South Carolina.

"I play both the trombone and the oboe," Wilcox said.

On his wall is a plaque showing he won the John Philip Sousa award from his high school in 1997 for outstanding instrumental music achievement.

He also is the recipient of a 2001 oboist achievement award from the Susquehanna University Symphonic Band.

Wilcox graduated from Susquehanna in Selinsgrove, Pa.

"Boonsboro High is a fairly large school, about the same size as the school where I taught in South Carolina," Wilcox said. The marching band, which includes a color guard and flag squad, numbers 106 students.

His duties in the fall semester are to teach marching band and rhythm lab, which is an elective. Classes are 90 minutes long.

"I am also working with the Boonsboro Elementary School fourth- and fifth-graders until January, helping them to get started with the instrumental music program there," Wilcox said.

During the spring semester, Wilcox will be teaching concert band, as well as guitar and rhythm labs.

"It's a lot and very challenging with time," Wilcox said.

That doesn't even figure in rehearsals after school, football game

performances and

working the concession stand with band parents.

As if that weren't enough, the band has been preparing for the annual Showcase of Bands to be held Oct. 11 at South Hagerstown High School. This year's event is to begin at 7:30 p.m.

"My wife and I don't see each other much during the school year," Wilcox said, adding that they make up for lost time in the summer.

"We love what we do, so it works out," he said.

The fact that he loves what he does becomes even more apparent when he sees the light bulb go on for a student who suddenly "gets it" and knows that he or she has improved in musical prowess.

Unlike teachers of other subjects who must wait for test results or papers to evaluate their students' progress, Wilcox gets to do that every day through his students' performances.

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