And His Band Played On

Last week the band instructor at my kids’ school passed away. Apparently he died in his sleep. The kids were told about this the day after by the school principal.

My son was sad and he showed a lot of maturity for an 11 year old in understanding and absorbing the news.

‘Band’ is an extra-curricular activity at our local primary school. My kids both play in the bands of their respective grades, and their choice of instruments quite indicative of their respective personalities. The louder and more extroverted one chose the Trumpet and has been ‘Dizzy Gillespie-ing’ his two siblings and his parents in the living room. While the older one retreats to his own room with his clarinet and does his best Benny Goodman impressions (that is when he is ‘In the Mood’ to do so).

I have had the pleasure of listening to Mr. Strachan’s band for the past 12 years at our annual Christmas concerts, through my 3 children. His bands would play a medley of songs always ending with the exciting finale, his favorite called ‘Kids on Top’.

It was always an adventure as the parents would delight in listening to some sort of melody and the attendant shrill tones of a French horn, the occasional squawk of the clarinet, or the thud of some instrument or other being dropped on the gym floor.  When it came to playing the favorite, Mr. Strachan would wear some unique hat, get behind the drums (you knew that he was a drummer and loved to play), and would lead the kids with the beat of his sticks and the rhythm in his soul.

As a man in his 70s I am sure he could have applied his effort and time towards other activities, but it was his love for music, and for children, that must have driven him to running school bands. It had to be love because he had to be willing to listen to some bad music and deal with inattentive and distracted children from time to time (I feel his pain, I coach minor hockey!).

He requested no funeral be held, wishing his remains cremated. They will hold a concert in his honor in a couple of weeks. I can’t think of a more fitting tribute to him and his work to inspire children to play and enjoy music.

So this morning I am asking you, as a leader or manager of your own trucking company, or of a freight brokerage business, the same questions that I am asking myself these days.

What legacy will I leave for those who follow? What will be my contribution to those that will follow in my footsteps in the business? Will I leave them ‘the beat’…the beat of a heart. A passion for doing things well and being everything that they can be? Will I leave them with a ‘rhythm’…..a way of doing things that will make both the business and themselves successful beyond my tenure? Will they be willing to persevere and ‘hold true to the melody’ despite the inevitable squawks and bleats that occur along the way? Will I equip them enough to be on top like those kids in Mr. Strachan’s band?

Yes. Profound questions all.

And the beat goes on.

And his bands play on.


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