OPEN HOUSE: Meet Fred Hadley, Shannon High School’s band director

F" itemprop="articleBody">

Fred Hadley is the director of Shannon High School’s band.

A graduate of Tupelo High School, Hadley earned an associate’s degree from Itawamba Community College before completing a bachelor’s degree in music education from Mississippi State University.

Hadley has worked as a band director for 11 years, 10 of which have been with Shannon High.

He spent nine years as assistant band director and took on the role of head band director during the 2021-22 school year.

With 45 members, this year’s band is smaller than usual, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you ask Hadley. All of the students are there because they want to be.

The group consists of members who are teachable, who learn well and are overall good students.

Q&A

What was your favorite subject growing up?

“Band and almost anything music related was definitely my favorite subject growing up. Band was structured and challenging but also gave me the opportunity to be expressive or “color outside the lines” a little. It was the first place that I truly felt a sense of belonging and camaraderie. I am still very close to some of the people I met not only during my college band experience, but in my high school band experience as well.”

Did you have any favorite teachers? What made them special?

“I usually got along very well with the teachers that were not so popular among the student body. I’ve always enjoyed a challenge, so teachers that forced me outside of my comfort zone had the most impact on many of my school experiences.”

Tell me about your philosophy as a teacher. How do you approach the job each day?

“As a band instructor, it is my job to not only give my students a musical education, but to create lifelong learners. I have to look past the student’s experience in my band hall and prepare them for future experiences. Whether they became doctors, lawyers or even mechanics, I want music to enrich their lives and for them to intentionally pursue opportunities to express themselves through music.”

What’s one thing you wish your students knew about you?

“I wish my students knew that they are thought of in very high esteem. My joy as a teacher comes from seeing them learn from both their failures and successes. They are deeply cared for and without them, there is no band.”

What is your favorite part of the job?

“I have a very unfair advantage compared to most teachers at this school because I actually get to watch my students from the time they start in band until they graduate from high school and leave band. My favorite part of the job is simply to watch them not only learn, but take what they’re learning and apply what they’re learning and watch them grow in that musical experience throughout their time here at Shannon.”

Do you have a band motto?

“We really don’t. But I guess if we had a band motto, our motto would be, ‘We are educating students not just in band, but we’re educating students for life.’ I don’t know about you, but I don’t see any marching bands marching up and down the street in the morning when I go get my mail. The skills that we’re teaching them, the experience that we’re giving them, it all has a purpose and we hope they see that, take that with them and apply that to other areas.”

What are you looking forward to this school year?

“Last year was a struggle because it was technically our first ‘normal year’ that we’ve had. I hear a lot of band directors say, ‘Oh, that was a rebuilding year.’ And I question that because I think almost every year is a rebuilding year to some degree. Last year, of course, more than others. It started off a little rough, but ended really well.

“So what I’m looking forward to is seeing the students take what they’ve learned and to continue to watch them apply what they’ve learned this past year and to this upcoming year and just watch them grow not only as musicians but as people in general. That’s what I look forward to.”