Whitewater band director celebrates 25 years of teaching

Dr. Glenn Hayes is celebrating his 25th year at UW-Whitewater, and he couldn’t be more grateful for the time he’s spent here.

Dr. Glenn Hayes is currently celebrating his 25th year teaching at Whitewater. Hayes is the director of the marching band and the symphonic wind ensemble. Photo submitted.

“It’s a lot of great memories,” Hayes said. “I’m really happy here. Most of my students that have been in the music program are actually colleagues now and Whitewater is a great community to raise our family. It’s a wonderful community. It’s a wonderful campus. I believe with all my heart and soul the mission of this place and the growth I’ve seen in the last 25 years is stunning.”

In addition to his teaching career, Hayes is also the director of the marching band and the symphonic wind orchestra.

When the position became available in 1986, he knew this would be the perfect job for him.

“When the job opened up, it was one of three that I applied for,” Hayes said. “I really wanted this one for a few reasons. I really like the undergraduate focus of this campus and I had family nearby. It seemed like the perfect fit.”

It may have been a good fit, but the first year was a lot for Hayes to handle.

Hayes said he was very busy at the beginning of his career here. He said every time there is a change in director for an ensemble, there is a long adjustment period.

Hayes relished the opportunity, seeing as how he had been working to that point since he was in middle school.

“Honestly, I knew I had to be a band director since 7th grade,” Hayes said. “At the end of that year, it was like somebody flipped a switch on me and I thought, ‘this is what I’m supposed to do.’”

After he left his hometown of Romulus, Mich., Hayes pursued a number of interests at Central Michigan University.

“That was a life changing experience,” Hayes said. “I had never been a part of a good band program. I found out what it took to be successful in what I wanted to do, and I met my wife Christine there.”

Something just seemed to click between the two music majors, as they’ve now been married for over 36 years.

Hayes has had his ups and downs at UW-Whitewater, but he’s never regretted staying for as long as he has.

“I think there are days we all consider leaving,” Hayes said. “At times I’ve thought about it, but when it would get to the fish or cut bait moment, as hokey as this sounds, I truly love this campus. This is an exceptional place with exceptional people. The students are incredible. It’s fun. It’s really fun.”

It’s easy for Hayes to recall both the highlights and lowlights of his days on campus, including a fateful day back in 1993.

He said his toughest day he had while at Whitewater was when the university hosted the state high school marching band championships.

“We’ve been doing that since 1989 and on that day in ’93, it began to pour,” Hayes said. “We had to call the show inside. We brought the groups up the ramp, had them take their muddy shoes off and then let them perform. Everyone was soaked and we didn’t end the show until 2 a.m. after starting at 11:30 a.m. the previous morning. That was a very long day … a very tough day.”

Recently, there have been more good times, especially when it comes to traveling with the marching band to cheer on the championship football team.

“I’ll always distinctly remember 2007, in the mist, watching Justin Beaver make that last touchdown and knowing what that meant,” Hayes said. “What that meant for our campus and everybody associated with the university was huge.”

The symphonic wind ensemble Hayes directs has also had their fair share of big moments.

In 2003, the wind ensemble traveled to England. Hayes said he didn’t want it to be a trip where you only visit tourist attractions, so the group spent a day at the Royal Northern College of Music.

“We ended up going back, opened for the festival and got called back to the stage four times,” Hayes said. “It was incredible.”

In fact, because they were so good that day, they’ve been invited to perform in one of the most famous venues in America.

“At that performance, some people who heard us were people who run the major band festivals around the world and the wind ensemble was actually invited to perform as the showcase band at the New York Wind Band Festival in 2013,” Hayes said. “That means we’ll perform at Carnegie Hall. We’re all very excited to say the least.”

Hayes is quick to credit his students for all the success, but for students like senior Abigail Pulvermacher, Hayes is why they chose UW-Whitewater in the first place.

“The reason I came to UW-Whitewater was Dr. Hayes,” Pulvermacher said. “The first time I saw him teach, I remember thinking, ‘Wow, wouldn’t it be cool if I could teach as good as him?’”

Hayes said he really cares about his students just as much as the music.

When they come together for that first rehearsal of the semester, it’s his favorite time of year.

“That’s when I get to go into a room for the first time with the marching band or the wind ensemble and have that initial interaction with the group involving music,” Hayes said. “We’re all in that room because of our love of music and everyone wants to do well and give their best. That’s always a really exciting time for me.”

With the students and staff that make up UW-Whitewater, it doesn’t seem likely Hayes will retire in the near future.

“I love my job,” Hayes said. “I love my colleagues. I respect them all so highly. The administration has always been very supportive and the students are responsive and a lot of fun. I feel like I’ve still got a lot of work to do and I’m going to keep giving everything I’ve got to the band program, the music education program and my students.”

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