Starting Teal Traditions and Making Music
Since then, Garrett Griffin, assistant professor in the Department of Music and director of bands, has been leading and encouraging his students to sculpt the identity of sound on campus in fresh, innovative ways.
Throughout his career in music, Griffin has become a bit of an expert in building traditions with bands. After earning his B.A. in music education from East Carolina University, Griffin taught high school music at West Johnston High School in Benson, N.C., for nine years; under his leadership, the marching band performed at the 2008 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and the 2010 Disney Christmas Day parade. He earned his M.M. in instrumental conducting and is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in music education with a focus in instrumental conducting from the University of Florida. As a graduate teaching assistant, he worked with the award-winning Gator Marching Band.
“I knew that this was really an opportunity to build traditions and also expectations of what the brand program can be here at CCU,” said Griffin.
When Griffin got the call that CCU was looking for a new director, the most appealing factor to him was the opportunity to establish a high artistic standard.
“It was intriguing to me because the program is so young,” said Griffin. “Some bands have certain things that have been done for decades, whether you like it or not.”
Regiments on campuses such as the University of Florida, University of Michigan and the University of Notre Dame were started nearly a century ago, he explained. CCU’s program began in 2003.
“Coastal doesn’t have 100 years of tradition,” said Griffin. “It’s interesting and exciting for students to make new traditions themselves and create that culture.”
The classic look, feel and sound of a marching band at a football game is part of the tradition Griffin is envisioning, but the idea of incorporating art into the athletic experience is also important.
“For football games, the experience is the pregame, the game and halftime, and there are musical entities that you expect,” said Griffin. “Sitting in silence during a timeout is not part of that experience. At the same time, bringing quality arts to football games is essential because it exposes people to those arts who might not have ever had these experiences,” said Griffin.
Jesse Willis, associate professor and the director of percussion studies in the Department of Music, believes Griffin will be the leader to establish Chanticleer band traditions.
“Having Garrett as director of bands is a chance to build the program and allows him to put his unique stamp on it,” said Willis. “We want to create things that will stick.”
After Griffin’s first academic year on campus, it’s clear that CCU’s band program seeks to lay the foundation for a future of music, and student musicians are pleased with Griffin’s approach.
“He’s a strong leader because of his ability to level with the students and understand what we need while also holding firm with his expectations,” said T.J. Anderson, a senior music major, who has worked with Griffin since August 2018.