Cliff Dawson, the new director of the Braden River High School marching bands, stood before four members of the marching band in a small room with the metronome.
He listened intently to the band members perform their respective parts of a quartet that will be part of this year’s walking show, “Renewal”.
When they finished their section, Dawson asked a question.
âWhat does this song sound like to you? Dawson said.
Some of the responses included bubbles, tatting, and magic.
âTo me it sounds like an ABBA track,â Dawson said, throwing his fist in the air, making the band members laugh.
Although Dawson is the new group principal at Braden River High School, he hasn’t missed a beat since returning to high school after being assistant group principal for two years at the school and a music teacher at the school. Samoset primary school last year. .
“I told parents that nothing has changed but everything has changed, so I will do my best to be the best Jeramiah Bowman impersonator I can be, but at the end of the day the systems that we planes in place here had no reason to change, âDawson said.
Dawson replaces Jeramiah Bowman, who served as group director at Braden River High for five years before accepting a position as Visual and Performing Arts Education and Programs Specialist for the Manatee County School District.
âI will definitely miss the kids, being there with them and watching them grow,â Bowman said. âI wouldn’t trade (my time at Braden River High) for anything. I certainly learned more from them than they probably learned from me. I have matured as an educator and as a leader.
During Bowman’s five years at Braden River High School, the Pirate Marching Band won Division 3A of the Florida Marching Band Championship for three consecutive years (2017-2018-2019).
âI’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished, but it was definitely a group effort among all the students, staff and parents,â Bowman said. âIt takes a whole team and a community to be able to achieve something like this. I believe the program is always set for success. I think it’s stronger than when I got there. The point is to always leave it better than you found it.
Bowman said concert and jazz groups have always received higher marks on musical performance ratings, and solo and ensemble participation has always been high.
âI think we’ve been able to create special opportunities for kids to enjoy and experience their love of music,â Bowman said.
Dawson said there are slight mixed feelings when the band’s resumption of the band’s programs in Braden River is due. He’s thrilled to be returning to a school he considers his home, but knows he has great shoes to fill and a legacy of success to maintain.
âBraden River has a proven track record of excellence and we have no plan to change that,â said Dawson. “We will continue to do what Braden River is doing.”
Aston Staton, junior and aspiring drum major, expects Dawson to be able to push the group to their limits while creating a positive attitude in the program.
Melanie Ladd, a rising senior and color guard flag captain, said having Dawson as their manager brings a sense of comfort to the group as they know his personality and understand how he works.
âI think because he learned a lot from Bowman he will continue his legacy, but he will also implement new styles and new ways,â Ladd said. âHe’s serious most of the time, which is what we need, but he also gives us a lot of comfort when we need it. When we struggle, he keeps us together.