Matthew Martindale felt the pressure of taking over the Pride of Shelby County Marching Band — a program with a storied history — and replacing a director who retired after more than 20 years. “The students and community truly embraced me,” he said. “I knew this was going to be a special place when a senior trombone player said, ‘Welcome to the family,’ early in the school year. As the year progressed, the students started calling me ‘Martindad,’ and our teacher/student relationships continued to grow.”
Even though the Pride of Shelby County is the oldest band in the county, it is also the smallest and was in need up many upgrades. In his first year, Martindale wanted to get new uniforms, which were 18 years old. He worked with the boosters to fund a portion of the cost. Then he launched a capital campaign and secured sponsorships that brought in more than $15,000, which was enough to purchase uniforms.
He also received two major grants totaling $22,500 to buy and repair instruments for the middle school beginner band program. “This will allow our beginner band students to participate for free for many years to come,” Martindale said. “This increased enrollment in band across both Columbiana Middle School and Shelby County High School.”
During his second year, Martindale changed the music the band performed from classic rock to a completely different Dia De Muertos half time program he created, which “introduced the students and our small rural community to this Spanish style of music and pageantry. This creative move won the band recognition as 'Best in Class' in all categories at a competition that year,” wrote a parent in one of Martindale’s “40 Under 40” nomination letters.
After winning, his students continued to improve and “at our last competition, we were not victorious, but all their scores had increased dramatically,” Martindale said. Even though there wasn’t a trophy, his students believed they had won. “If you can get your students to realize that competition is only one aspect of growth and that improvement is more important, then you can be happy as a director,” he said.