MARSHALL – Wayne Ivers remembers the day he decided what he wanted to do with a living. As a student, he was invited to participate in a high school marching band practice.
“At that time, I knew,” Said Ivers. There was nothing special about this particular practice – it was raining and the group was walking inside – but he said it was a situation where “You just know inside yourself that it’s your thing.”
And Ivers has stayed true to that, through a career in music education spanning over 40 years. He taught and led a group at Marshall High School for 38 of those years.
“It was fun to be here and to work here”, Said Ivers. Getting to know and working with the students has been a big part of that, he said. “Children are the first.”
Ivers is retiring this year. It’s going to be hard to say goodbye to MHS, Ivers said.
“Sometimes we have the impression that it’s the end of the school year, not the end”, he said.
“Music has always been an integral part of what I do” Said Ivers. He loved singing and music when he was growing up in Willmar and participated in a band in high school and college. The group director in his last year of high school “Really encouraged me to get into music,” he said.
Ivers taught at Clara City for six years before hearing about a job offer to Marshall from his former group manager. He began teaching at Marshall in January 1983, he said.
MHS ‘music program has achieved many milestones over the years, he said. A big change has been the way the Marshall Tiger Marching Band has developed as a competitive marching band. When he started teaching, the marching band performed only a few community events a year and entered a competition.
“It’s a ton of work to only go out and play once”, Said Ivers.
He said things started to change in the late 1980s when the Minnesota State High School League began inviting groups to perform at Prep Bowls. When MHS has been selected, “For the children, it was huge. It was like winning the lottery ”. he said. Through the 1990s and 2000s, the marching band continued to perform in larger competitions, from the University of South Dakota High School Marching Band Tournament to being top-in-class at Bands of America competitions. . In 2012, MHS was the Class A champion of the BOA St. Louis Super Regional Championship.
However, Ivers said his most important goal for students is not performance skill or competitive success.
“I don’t expect everyone to become a professional musician. I expect them to be good people ”, he said. “I think it’s important that we all respect each other for our involvement” in school activities, he said. Without respect, cooperation and discipline, the group would not function.
Over the years, it has been gratifying to watch the way students grow up, said Ivers. Examples include seeing ninth graders meeting the heightened expectations of the high school band, students dramatically improving their skills, or marching band members succeeding with a piece of music they thought they were. “Much too hard” he said.
“It’s hard when they graduate” he said goodbye to the students.
There were a lot of memorable moments competing in a marching band, he said – but they didn’t necessarily have to do with winning. For students, the best memories might be spending time with classmates or enjoying the show.
“Win or lose, I want them to have a sense of accomplishment once they’re done”, he said.
“It’s going to be different” Ivers said of his retirement. It was difficult to tell the students his decision, but he said he thought it was about time.
“I don’t think I’m ready, but it’s time to end it” he said.