WCU marching band director honored with national award

Bob Buckner, director of Western Carolina University’s Pride of the Mountains Marching Band, is one of the first two recipients of the Award for Excellence in Marching Music Education presented by MENC: The National Association for Music Education and Drum Corps International.

Buckner, a resident of Waynesville, received the award in recognition of his outstanding work as a music educator, and for his efforts to assist both organizations with the creation and implementation of the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band.

The newly created award will be given twice a year to recognize educators, organizations or businesses that have made significant, life-long contributions to the art of marching music. It was designed by Tom Batiuk, an American comic strip creator. Batiuk created the Funky Winkerbean comic strip, which featured Harry Dinkle, the self-proclaimed world’s greatest band director.

MENC is among the world’s largest arts education organizations. It serves millions of students nationwide through activities at all teaching levels, from preschool to graduate school. Drum Corps International is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing positive experience through the art of marching music performance.

Bucker has established a distinguished career in the field of music education and in the marching pageantry field. Under Buckner’s direction, WCU’s Pride of the Mountains Marching Band earned the distinction of being the only marching band ever selected to perform at the North Carolina Music Educators annual convention and has performed at the prestigious Bands of America National Marching Band Championships. Among his other awards and honors are MENC’s Lowell Mason Award and selection to the Bands of America Hall of Fame.

Buckner’s latest music education award is another addition to the Pride of the Mountains Marching Band’s growing 2009 awards roster. The band recently was named the recipient of the prestigious Sudler Trophy, the nation’s highest and most-coveted award for college and university marching bands.

Western Carolina is the first institution in the state of North Carolina and the first member of the Southern Conference selected for the award, which has been called the “Heisman Trophy” of the collegiate marching band world. Formal presentation of the award will be during the WCU vs. Wofford football game held on Oct. 24 in Cullowhee.

The marching band’s 2009 halftime show “Born to Be Alive” features the music of the Black Eyed Peas, Pearl Jam, Patrick Hernandez, Maroon 5, Bee Gees, Motley Crue, Kanye West, Michael Jackson and Chick Corea.

For more information about the Pride of the Mountains, visit www.prideofthemountains.com or call 828.227.2259.

The Naturalist's Corner

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