Keeping Music Your Focus

by Adam Cantley, National President, KKΨ |

[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #0099FF;”]F[/dropcap]or someone who is a self proclaimed science and math nerd, I never expected to write over 20 articles for the Podium. This is more writing than I ever expected to do in my lifetime. Like everyone, getting good ideas can be challenging. When this happens I typically turn to my brothers and friends for inspiration. One of the most frequent topics I have encountered over the years is, “How are all the chapters different.”   In fact if you look in old Podiums you will find articles about differences in chapter size, membership, and programs.

I have often written about how I love the fact we have chapters at all types of institutions and from coast to coast, with over 210 campuses we truly encompass every type of person and band imaginable. I am so proud of the diversity of our organization and hope it continues to grow.

As I continue in leadership, I think there is one question that should be posed that is more important. “How are all the chapters the same?” I think we often focus on our difference and forget to look at what binds us together as a national brotherhood. Sometimes I think it is easier for me to see sitting as national presidents, but it really smacked me clear in the face at National Convention in Colorado Springs with the help of some of my friends who have only observed us at conventions.

At national convention the brothers heard presentations from Dr. Lori Hart and T.J. Sulllivan. Lori and T.J. have been professional friends of mine for a couple of years through their work with Kappa Kappa Psi, CAMPUSPEAK and our work with college students on a variety of campuses. Before the presentation, Lori came up to me said, “I am always so excited to present to Kappa Kappa Psi, because I know it will be a full room and an engaged group.” I looked her and said, “Thanks that is just what we do.” These observations continued when I spoke to Lori after her initiation at National Convention as an honorary brother. She said, “You know Adam, when you told me this ritual was at sunrise, I figured the room would be empty. I should have known better, you had people standing in the back because you ran out of seats. It is inspiring. I can’t believe everyone knows the hymn.”  This was message was echoed by T.J. After his presentation we went to dinner. We were rushing because of the Boston Brass Concert. When we walked into the concert T.J. was surprised. He said to me later, “At any other fraternity convention attendees would have skipped the concert.  I was blown away.”

When I sat down to reflect on this, I couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. Why wouldn’t our brothers be at a workshop? Of course they are going to be at ritual. We could have sold tickets to the Boston Brass Concert and our members would still attend. Then it struck me, for some reason I had separated Kappa Kappa Psi from my professional life on college campuses. Do you know what I would give to have 100% my organization presidents attending a meeting? I usually have to bribe them points or food or threaten them with mandatory meetings and loss of accreditation status. The challenges I face with other organizations, vanish with Kappa Kappa Psi. I followed up with T.J. about it and he probably summed it up perfectly, “The simple joy that your members get from music is what unites you, and I am supremely jealous of that as a member of a “regular” fraternity.”

Brothers, when we are focused on music, college bands, and the mission of the fraternity, we are an unstoppable national force. When our national organization comes together for our mission fantastic products come forward. These products include a commissioning program with Tau Beta Sigma that will have been in existence for 60 years at our national convention in 2013 and will have contributed 29 separate pieces for college bands. A National Chapter Field Representative Program that has been in existence since 1992 and allowed countless chapters the opportunity to grow and be challenged. The National Month of Musicianship which challenges all our members to celebrate and enhance music. The National Intercollegiate Band, which has recognized excellent student performers and given them the opportunity to work with some of the best people in college bands since 1947. These are just some examples. There are countless activities that happen across our country on campuses that we do not even hear about that are focused on bands and out mission.

Sadly, it is when brothers lose that focus on music that we see products that do not better our organization. These products include violations of our hazing policy that result in outcomes that could endanger the existence of our organization. We see petty arguments between our organization and others on campus that should be our partners. Finally, we see the loss of chapters and our members because they can no longer be committed to the high ideals of our fraternity.

At National Convention it is easy to focus on the mission of the fraternity. We are immersed in the organization everyday for a week. It is when we leave that the reality of the outside world impacts our focus on the mission of our organization. However, as individuals we must constantly work, to maintain that focus. When a Kappa Kappa Psi member focuses on the one thing that makes us all the same, our passion for music and bands, they have the potential to truly Strive for the Highest. If they do choose to focus on things outside of our national values and mission, they are marginally acceptable at best.  I challenge you all to continue to keep our mission and values at the center of your work. Truly, it is the only way to be an outstanding brother of our organization.

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