RHSMB DRum Major Spotlight

Name: James Garde


What year were you drum major?: 1992 - The 1969 show


What college did you attend and what was your major?: I went to James Madison University and studied Music Education.


What have been up to since graduating from RHS? Are there any lessons from being a part of the RHSMB that have helped you?:


My experience in the RHS Marching Band has totally influenced my whole life! After a great experience in high school, I went on to 4 years of marching at JMU. I was a drum major in college as well. I conducted a band of 400+ that included a trumpet section of 75 members. Pretty awesome!


After college, I came back to NJ and had the good fortune to join the staff of the RHS Marching Band. I worked with the band for a number of years as a music tech, a visual tech, a woodwind instructor, etc. The greatest experience of my professional life as a music teacher came in the 6 years that I got to serve as the director of the RHS Marching Band. I think I had always had in the back of my head that it would be great to get to direct the band some day, but that was nothing but a pipe dream. Well, I got to live that pipe dream for 6 seasons! There is no feeling quite like giving back to a program that gave me so much.


I have also spent a number of years working with both the Midland Park and Indian Hills Marching Bands as a music consultant and arranger. So from my freshman year in 1989 up until the present day, you could say that I have found marching band to pretty much be the world's greatest activity.


In terms of life lessons, I learned that to be early is to be on time. As a freelance musician, I can't tell you have many times that fact alone has helped me to get hired again.


I would also say that membership in the marching band really taught me the power of being a part of something that is bigger than yourself. When you train yourself to musically go out of your way to listen to other people and other parts, that can spill over into conversations with colleagues and administrators. The coordination of getting everyone moving in the right direction has been invaluable to me as a teacher in the classroom, in the band room, on the stage for musical rehearsals, as a musician, as a youth group volunteer, etc.


What is your favorite memory from marching band and do you have any advice for current or incoming marching band members?:


I have so many great, and some really tough memories that are in my marching band "file". Two that stick out for me in terms of my time in the band occurred in the tunnel at Giants Stadium. The first was in 1989 when we sang "Where is Love" in the tunnel before taking the field. It was that moment that I knew this was going to be a part of my life for a long time. The second was singing "Bridge Over Troubled Water" in the tunnel before championships in 1992. In fact, I remember a number of individual moments from that show. When we stepped out of the tunnel, among all of the crowd noise and announcements over the loudspeaker, I could clearly make out the bell my father was ringing. I can still remember catching a bit of Jeff Haas' eyes as I turned around on the podium at the end of the show with tears in my own. Awesome moments!


I can remember fun stories from band camp, from rehearsals, from shows, and from friends videos at the ends of seasons. I have shared stories and things I learned with a great number of students over the years who have worn the uniform after me.


Equally, if not more important, the marching band has had a great impact on my life outside of the football field. In the worst moments of my life, there were members of my marching band family around me supporting me. And in one of the best moments of my life, two of the three groomsmen who stood with me at my wedding were friends from the RHS Marching Band.


My best advice to current band members: don't take what you have for granted! Experience and enjoy every moment. From the exhaustion of rehearsal to the excitement of performance, it is all worthwhile. The memories and bonds of friendship formed from shared struggle, growth, and experience can last a lifetime, but you have to put in the effort on all ends. So enjoy, be proud, and know that you are an integral part of the best organization around!

James Garde - 1992

Name: Michael Sherman


What year were you drum major?: 1997 - Fiesta


What college did you attend and what was your major?: University of Delaware - Neuroscience and Philosophy


What have been up to since graduating from RHS? Are there any lessons from being a part of the RHSMB that have helped you?:


After RHS, I attended the University of Delaware and obtained degrees in Neuroscience and Philosophy.


After college, I began working for a large medical company. I moved a few times living in places such as Philadelphia and Virginia Beach while growing my career. I stayed in healthcare for almost 13 years before recently having been recruited to an entirely different industry. I am currently the Regional Vice President of Sales covering the Northeast United States for an international, multi-billion dollar company in the building products industry. I oversee a team of 50 people across 9 states and currently live right here in Ridgewood, NJ with my wife, Tracee, and our dog, Cooper.


Marching Band was - without question - a pivotal experience that taught me crucial life-skills such as: work ethic, discipline, precision, leadership and teamwork. While these may sound like cliche terms, I can assure you, these skills you learn in Marching Band are both critical and transferrable to whatever field you pursue.


Perhaps the most important lesson I learned is that people don't follow leaders because they have to -- they follow them because they want to. They follow because they believe in the goal and the vision. Titles sound nice, but they don't matter, nor do you need one to lead. Be passionate, be courageous and continue to surround yourself with people who inspire you.


What is your favorite memory from marching band and do you have any advice for current or incoming marching band members?:


Winning a championship was truly an awesome experience. I can still see and hear moments from that night in my head. But, had we not won, I would still have my best friends all of whom I met in Marching Band. We'd still have all the amazing memories we share and they would still be some of the most important people in my life today. Winning is and was fun, but it's really the seemingly endless and totally random memories that truly mean something to me now.


Work hard and give it your all; leave it all on the field, as we say. But at the end of the day, take a look around and realize that the friendships you make now and the skills you learn today will positively influence the rest of your life.


If you're currently in Marching Band, you've already made the right decision. Keep inspiring others as others have inspired you. If you haven't joined yet and you want to be apart of something special - do it and get ready for the experience of a lifetime. Because Marching Band isn't a four-year deal...it is a lifetime of friendships, memories and experiences that will make you better in every possible way.

Michael Sherman - 1997

Marching Band through the years...

RHSMB Bicentennial Parade 1976
RHSMB 1980 Newspaper Wilhjelm
RHSMB 1979
RHSMB 1981
RHSMB 1947