By Will McClure
Stamford Bulldog fans will have noticed a very familiar, and louder sound coming from the stands as the Bulldog Marching Band plays the Fight Song. This change is the result of the increased size of the band, with 56 members including 25 eighth graders, making it one of the biggest bands in the last several years. In his third year at Stamford, Michael Copeland shares his thoughts on how the band has begun to return to form on Friday nights. Copeland brings a positive attitude into the classroom as well as almost 22 years of experience, opening the door for students to participate in music. Copeland teaches not only the high school band, but the middle school and fifth grade students at Oliver, thus beginning the process of introducing students to music and encouraging them to continue.
“The first thing I discovered was we’ve got kids that are very talented and can play music. They’re not just talented in athletics, they’re talented in Ag, FCCLA teams, UIL teams, and they’re talented in music too. Kids love music and if I can get them playing an instrument, they’ll enjoy it and more than likely stay with it,” Copeland said.
Copeland also stated that a positive attitude helps in the classroom, pointing out how in his first year as head band director there were only six seniors and one junior in the band. He expressed his appreciation to them in giving him a chance to help the band grow. Copeland noted how those upperclassmen had been through a lot during their time in band and will never forget them giving him the opportunity to learn from them. Entering his third year, Mr. Copeland has continued to have the band improve, from getting better at playing their instruments, allowing them to earn division ones at contest, to working hard on the marching aspect on Friday nights. Copeland relates how fans would give compliments to the band through him, allowing him to see the success of the band’s hard work and dedication to their art form. Copeland also stated how the traditions of Stamford High School helped him connect with the band and allowed him to better relate to the band, stating how even when things are not doing well during games, there is no desire to quit and the Bulldog spirit continues. He reflected on the most recent State Championship game when discussing the traditions of Stamford.
“I’ve had my wife standing beside me and say ‘You know, these kids know how to come back.’ The band kids are coming back. It just takes a while to do it and the great thing is everybody here knows it too, and they’ve been encouraging to me to keep my head up. I like that tradition. It’s a Stamford tradition,” Copeland said.
In keeping with the traditions and never-say-quit attitude, Copeland has instilled in the classroom the positive attitude and the need to be continuously playing music 90 percent of class time, believing that anything less is the band not making music and does not allow them to have fun during class time. He also encourages the band students to pursue other areas they enjoy along with band, relating to them how they should not stick with only one activity and that they should enjoy having every opportunity available to them as high school students before needing to make decisions on their lives. Copeland relates to his students how he not only participated in band, but he also played football throughout his high school career, showing them his football helmet that he keeps at home.
Looking forward to the future as the band continues to grow, Mr. Copeland expresses his gratitude towards the Stamford ISD administration, faculty and community for their continued support for the band and is thankful for the opportunity to help the band in the growth process, wanting the fans to know that the band is far from finished and is not done yet as the numbers continue to grow and the music continues to get better. Copeland ends by saying that everything is getting better all the time and encourages the students to do what they love to do and strive to reach their goals. The Bulldog fans will continue to show their unwavering support for the mighty Bulldog band as they get better and stronger in their music each and every week.