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Some performances stand out in every band director’s career.
For Keith Green, director of the Beddingfield High School band, that moment lasted about seven and a half minutes in the spring of 2007 when the concert band went to the state musical performance adjudication and played a piece called “Were You There?” by composer Fred Allen.
“That band really, really played that piece of music,” said Green, who is retiring after 15 years. He spent half of his 30-year career in music education at Beddingfield.
“It was a really hard piece of music. They really had been struggling,” Green recalled. “It required the band to have a high level of concentration.”
The composition is a slow piece and slow pieces can be difficult for a large group.
“When we performed it at the festival that year, they just really played to the point that some of the parents in the audience were like ‘I didn’t even believe that they could play like that,’” Green said. “A hush fell over the whole auditorium. I have that recording and that is one of the finest recordings that we have.”
Green said it’s hard to put moments like that into words.
“It’s almost magical,” Green said. “It’s almost like an out-of-body experience. You don’t have too many of those at this level, but that one performance really sticks out in my mind.”
Green, who graduated from Livingstone College in Salisbury, came to Beddingfield in the fall of 2003 from Rochelle Middle School in Kinston.
As a music education major, Green concentrated on saxophone. But in his career as a band director, he developed his facility on the tuba. At Saturday’s commencement exercises, Green could be seen playing the big brass instrument while simultaneously conducting the band.
Green said his highest priority was raising the level of musicianship.
“The Beddingfield band has always been competitive,” Green said. “The band always did well in percussion and the auxiliary functions like color guard, but the band was never very strong musically. That is one of the things that we have been able to accomplish since I have been here.”
In his first year, the band received a superior rating at the North Carolina Music Education Association state concert band festival.
“We have gone every year that I have been here and gotten either superior or excellent ratings the entire time,” Green said. “We have had students making the all-state band and the all-district band. There is a lot of talent through here, even with all of the trials that we have had.”
Green tried to convince the young musicians that no matter what size group they had, they could be competitive and be a quality ensemble.
“It’s been the same thing with the marching band,” Green said. “The band has been competitive the whole time I have been here. Regardless of how many students we get in each year or what the instrumentation is, we have always been able to maintain a high level of musicality and a balanced ensemble, so that’s probably been the best thing.”
In his career at Beddingfield, Green has twice had the opportunity to conduct all-district bands.
“The band directors association awarded me the award of excellence this past February,” Green said. “They will present that to me in November at the musical educators’ convention.”
Green has spent much of his time building a solid complement of quality instruments for the students.
“If you take care of them, they will last as long as this building,” Green said.
Green said he appreciated the support he received from band parents through the years.
His great joy has been to watch students go on to college with scholarships to play their instruments. Some even went on to become band teachers or performers themselves.
“When I came out of school I thought that when I taught that I didn’t want any of my students to go to college and have to be remediated,” Green said. “I thought that was one of my duties to them as their teacher.”
Green said he plans to return to his home state of Virginia with his wife and might possibly take on another band directing gig.
“It’s been a real good ride here,” Green said. “I have really enjoyed the kids. I have enjoyed my time here. This has been a very fine place to work. There is a lot of camaraderie in the school. This is probably one of the best relationships between the band and athletics that I have ever dealt with in my entire career. That is just a testament to the people we have here at the school.”