Published on April 3, 2019 by Ashley Smith  

Samford hosted high school band members from five Perry County Schools on campus as part of what has become the Perry County Band Partnership - an ongoing initiative between Samford University School of the Arts’ Division of Music, Frances Marlin Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership and Perry County Schools.

From instructional interaction and collaboration with Samford music students and faculty ensemble leaders Captain Brian Walden and Tim Heath, to a campus-wide scavenger hunt, lunch in the caf, and a greeting from University President Andrew Westmoreland on the quad, the high school band students received a full Samford welcome both as guest performers and campus visitors.  

“I have been overwhelmed by the university’s support for the band members’ visit, campus performance and partnership,” Beth McGinnis, assistant professor of musicology, said.

The day-long trip concluded with an on-stage rehearsal and collaborative performance in Brock Recital Hall featuring Samford senior music students and Perry Country middle and high school musicians directed by band leaders Isaac Lanier of Robert C. Hatch High School and Terry DeVaughn of Francis Marion School. Both high school band directors noted how their students from traditionally-rival schools enjoyed learning together while experiencing the value of musical training. 

“About halfway through the visit, Mr. Lanier, found a new name for me: ‘Auntie McGinnis.’ After working with him and his colleagues over the past two years, [we see each other] as family now,” McGinnis said. “I have come to know him through the context of my own Samford family who also welcome him and his students with warmth and great respect.” 

McGinnis emphasized the nature of this mutually beneficial university-community partnership aimed at teaching all students to learn more about the culturally-rich African-American music traditions by arranging and playing together with high school band students from the region.

Both Samford and Perry County band leaders hope to expand the ongoing partnership by designing new paths for music enrichment within Perry County Schools. As part of McGinnis faculty fellowship in community-based learning with Mann Center, the center’s staff worked together to sponsor and plan the visit and later promote the collaborative performance. 

“We are so pleased to support the development of community-based learning courses like Dr. McGinnis’ senior music seminar,” Allison Nanni, director of community engagement in the Mann Center said. “Studying, arranging and performing alongside fellow musicians from another region and tradition is a learning experience that neither Samford nor Perry County Schools’ students will ever forget.” 

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.