For those that don't know about Canton Illinois, let me first explain that my hometown is located in west central Illinois, about 45 minutes from Peoria. Canton is a middle sized town with a population of about 12-13,000 people. I believe when Canton was at it's peak, we had about 15-16,000 population. This was in the 1970s.
I was very honored to be a part of the band program in Canton. The Canton bands had a reputation of being one of the finest in the state. Our junior high band was definitely at the top of the list in central illinois, as well as one of the finest in the state. Our band director was Mr. John Thompson. Mr. Thompson was known as one of the best educators in the state. He is a very talented director who taught us that through hard work and discipline, we can be successful.
While in the Canton Jr. High School Concert Band, which was the top band out of 3, we performed works that most high school bands play. I remember in particular my ninth grade year when we performed "Symphonic Dance No.#3 by Williams, "King Cotton March by Sousa, and another I cannot recall. After 38 years, you sometimes cannot recall everything. We went to both District and State Contest. At the state contest, we did something that doesn't always happen. Not only did we get straight 1s, but we got perfect scores from all 3 judges. This had happened in the past, but by not means recently.
While in the Canton Junior High Band, we played great works for band: "Emperata Overture", "Washinton Post March", and many others. I remember us sightreading almost daily with marches from the "Uncle Sam Astrut" booklet. Yes, this includes alot of 6/8 marches, which alot of directors shy away from today.
Mr. Thompson is one of the reasons I became a band director. One of my earlier compositions, "Arabian Dance" was composed and dedicated to both Mr. Thompson and my high school director, Mr. Arden Keen. Check this out here: http://trnmusic.com/products/Arabian-Dance.html
Next time, I'll write about our high school band director and program.