Every once in a while, someone walks into our life and changes it forever. It might have been a coach, parent, volunteer, advisor or it maybe a teacher.
Well, for the past 35 years, Bob Barron has shaped the lives of hundreds of students through his work as band director in the Upper Moreland School District.
Barron started playing trumpet at an early age and continued through high school and college. Barron admits that even though band directing came natural to him, it was not his first career path, as he attended West Chester University (WCU) with aspirations of going on the road and touring as a musician.
Barron found his love of teaching through observing band directors for coarse credit at WCU. Barron graduated from Upper Moreland High School () in 1973, going on to earn a degree in Education from WCU.
Barron would eventually return to the Upper Moreland School District in 1977.
Barron started at the elementary level, teaching general Music in the fifth-grade and Choir at four elementary schools in the school district: Woodlawn Elementary, North Willow Grove, Cold Spring and Round Meadow.
After 11 years teaching at the elementary level, he then moved to the high school, where he would stay for the next 24 years.
According to Barron, not one graduating class stands above another in his eyes.
“I value each class for itself, and love all the classes for all of their characters in that class,” Barron said.
He did say that it was a very special experience when he would teach students how to play an instrument at the elementary school level, and then eventually work with them again when he later moved to the high school.
While Barron realizes that not all of his students will pursue music after high school, there are still students inspired by Barron to choose the music field. Both Brian Stahl at the Middle School and at the Intermediate School were once students under Barron. Both now work together to try and inspire young musicians as Barron inspired them.
Barron also said that handling a concert band of over 60 students can be a very hard task. He explained that all the different instruments playing different notes, pitches and sounds, can sometimes be overwhelming, as the 60-plus individuals try to play as one.
“I try to keep things as status quo as possible,” Barron said.
He adds that not everybody is going to be a great musician, but that’s besides the point. He said while teaching his students notes, rhythms and different genres of music, Barron also tried to teach them honesty, fairness, moral values and love of music.
And, perhaps above all, he tried to instill a work ethic that will help his students be successful in anything they choose to do.
Building a Music Program
Throughout the years, Barron has kept busy by being involved with Concert Band, Jazz band, Music Classes and the at the high school. As Barron will step away from the stage this June, his legacy will live on for years to come.
Barron is credited for rebuilding the Upper Moreland Marching Unit, not only making it one of the largest non-sport co-curricular organization in the high school, but also one of the best and more competitive bands in Pennsylvania.
Ever since Barron’s work with the Jazz Band, his students have built a reputation for excellence, as they achieve the top ratings at many local competitions in the Delaware Valley.
As well as earning the top rank, the Jazz Band also earned many section awards, including, Best Rhythm Section, Best Saxophones, Best Trumpets and even Best Band Director, which was awarded to Barron four times.
“It is a award that means a lot to me,” Barron said.
Other band directors in the Cavalcade of Bands Association select the recipient of the Best Band Director award.
As the Upper Moreland Marching Unit and Jazz band both earned many group awards, so do many individual musicians at the high school. This year, were selected to the PMEA (Pennsylvania Music Educators, Association) district band (district 11). Out of the eight students selected for district band, three students were selected through audition to participate in the 2011-2012 .
Junior Curtis McPeak was selected to participate in the All-State Concert band while fellow junior Matt Salazar was selected for both All-State concert band and all state orchestra.
This year, for the first time in recent memory, Upper Moreland had a representative in the All-State orchestra, as junior Natalya Bonderchuk was selected through an audience process, from which she participated in this prestigious group.
Barron did not only reform the Marching Unit, but also the Jazz Band, which unlike the Marching Band, students must audition to be a member.
Tooting his Own Horn
Due to the long hours Bob Barron has dedicated to his students and the Upper Moreland School District, Barron said he did not have the opportunity to play trumpet as much as he would like.
But, Barron hopes to change that during retirement, he said with a smile.
Barron has helped change the lives of hundreds of students through his work in the Upper Moreland School District.
He not only prepared his students for the upcoming concert, but also prepared all of his students for life, teaching them much more than just musical notes - he taught his students the notes of life.
[Editor's Note] Gavin Lichtenstein is a Patch student correspondent. He is also a proud member of the Upper Moreland High School Marching Band.