Leaving the Canton Junior High School band program was very difficult for many of us. We all enjoyed learning and playing in Mr. Thompson's band. We had much success, so we really didn't want to leave the familiar band hall of the Junior High.
When we arrived at Canton Senior, later to be change to Canton High School, our new director was Arden Keen. Mr. Keen stood about 6 foot 7, so he was a very tall individual. His son, Marty, I believe was about 6 foot 11 and played college basketball.
The marching band at Canton was mostly known, at that time, for being a good parade band. Field show wise, we still marched "Big Ten" style. We learned a new show about every week, so we were never very clean, but we had some entertaining shows. Concert band was really good. We always got our first divisions. I remember my junior year when we placed in the state at the University of Illinois. My senior year we placed second in the state.
Mr. Keen was not only the school's band director, but he also taught choir and started a swing choir. He was a very talented individual not only as an instrumentalist, but also a vocalist and actor.
My senior year, we changed to corps style marching. Dale Hopper, later to be my college band director, wrote the drill, and we played some of his arrangements, as well as one by Gil Papp (director at Monticello High School). We placed in the finals at the Illinois State University marching competition. At the University of Illlinois marching band festival, we didn't perform quite as well. The highlight, for me personally, was taking first place "best drum major" in Class A. competition. I remember my fellow band members literally dragging me into Memorial Stadium to get the trophy. I didn't, at the time, believe I really placed first.
Another director that influenced me in a positive way was Marc Sinnock. Mr. Sinnock conducted the concert band and jazz band. He helped me a lot of confidence as drum major. I remember him and Mr. Keen trying to help me come up with a good salute. It worked!!
In closing, I was co-winner of the John Philip Sousa award. We so many good players, that Mr. Keen had multiple winners. I was blessed to be in the Canton bands with many good directors.
http://trnmusic.com/mp3s/arabiandance.mp3 is dedicated to both Mr. Keen and Mr. Thompson. It was performed by the Canton High School band in the early 2000s . The band was directed by Joe Roman. However, Mr. Thompson conducted the selection and Mr. Keen was able to watch. Since then, Mr. Keen left us due to a long battle with cancer. Mr. Thompson spends his day on his ranch. I call him now and then to thank him for all he did for me.
Next blog will be about my influences at Western Illinois University.