Husband and wife band directors make sure band students learn how to make music.
Emiline Morden’s 2-year-old fingers pushed the valves on a trumpet in the band room at Buddy Taylor Middle School. Emiline isn’t a member of the band, but it’s a good bet one day she will be.
The question is; will it be her mom’s BTTMS band or dad’s Indian Trails band?
“What we try to instill in our students is that we can be successful and it doesn’t have to be at anybody’s expense. In sports somebody has to lose but nobody has to lose here." Indian Trails Band Director David Morden.
Her parents, Susan and David Morden, are the band directors at the two middle schools. Ms Morden has been the BTMS director for the past nine years.
“This was my first job after I graduated from Stetson,” she said.
Mr. Morden taught in Volusia four years until an opening became available at Indian Trails Middle School five years ago.
The couple met their freshman year, sitting side by side playing trombone in the Stetson band.
Being married gives them the luxury of comparing notes to determine what works best in their classes. The only competition is the friendly bantering back and forth between them and what their classes are doing.
“We video or record the kids and say ‘we will have to share this with the north side because they won’t believe what you are playing here on the south side,’” said Ms. Morden.
“Or, I’ll call her up and leave a message about what my kids are doing,” he said.
When the students go to judged events it’s not to beat out the other bands, it’s to be assessed so they can improve their own performance.
“What we try to instill in our students is that we can be successful and it doesn’t have to be at anybody’s expense. In sports somebody has to lose but nobody has to lose here and we can go and enjoy each other’s performances,” Mr. Morden said.
The BTMS bands include about 170 students and 90 of those are eighth-grade students who will join the Flagler Palm Coast High School program next year. ITMS has nearly 200 students participating in band with 80 eighth-grade students headed to Matanzas High School.
Being a member of the middle school bands can help to take away the “new school” jitters since they have already met their new band leader and have been to the school.
“We do things with the high school now so they already know where the band room is and they know the band director,” Ms. Morden said.
“The support of this county, allowing us to have the freedom to be professional is why the programs are successful,” Mr. Morden said. “It’s rare for middle schools to be able to work so closely with the high school directors.”
Many students have never played an instrument the first time they walk into one of the Morden’s classrooms, but that doesn’t matter.
“We go through an instrument process, testing them on different instruments to see what they like and what they are best at,” Ms. Morden said. “I believe that each kid is made for a different instrument based on their personality and their physical features.”
The most popular instruments are the saxophone and percussion instruments, but a band must have more diversity.
“We need clarinets,” Ms. Morden said. “We have to limit how many of each instrument to make them well-balanced bands.”
Both agree that the students need to enjoy the music they are playing.
“Sometimes we will do some Taylor Swift, fun things to keep the kids interested,” Ms. Morden said.
“I try to do one pop tune per concert,” Mr. Morden said. “We don’t work on it nearly as much as the others, but then we don’t have to (because they already know the songs).
The benefits for the children are many according to the Mordens.
“Band is a place where your student can be safe and successful,” Ms. Morden said. “We try to take care of them as people and musicians. They feel like they belong somewhere and they feel good about themselves.”
The couple joked they also benefit from band classes.
“We have a great babysitting pool,” Mr. Morden said.
Good grades seem to go hand in hand with band for many students.
“We find that students’ grades often improve after being involved in band,” Mr. Morden said. “It’s a unique experience that you can only get here and that’s what their life is all about, building on these experiences. The more experiences we can give them, the more they can apply that to anything else they do.”