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Release Date: 
Friday, September 29, 2006

Band Director enjoys success of former students

HFCC Band Director enjoys success of former students

For Henry Ford Community College Director of Bands Rick Goward, the best part of his job is seeing his former students enjoy success doing what they love most - playing, conducting and teaching music.

In a teaching and conducting career that spans more than 31 years at college and high-school levels, Goward has kept track of his students, and has seen 43 students go on to become members of the University of Michigan Marching Band, 57 as members of Central Michigan University’s Chippewa Marching Band, as well as countless others as members of other university and college bands. Currently, six of his former students teach music at the college level and 60 are music teachers in public school districts. HFCC has the largest two-year college instrumental and vocal music program in the state, and one of the largest in the nation, with more than 250 students enrolled each year. HFCC offers an associate’s degree program in music that is transferable to major universities, as well as classes for non-degree students looking to improve their musical skills

Goward, a Dearborn resident, was recently reunited with one of his most successful former students, Jim Batcheller, who is now associate director of bands and director of the Central Michigan University Chippewa Marching Band. Batcheller was one of Goward’s student at Trenton High School, where Goward was director of the school’s marching band from 1975 to 1982. The two caught up on old times at the Central Michigan - University of Michigan football game a few Saturdays ago at Michigan Stadium. Batcheller invited Goward to be a special guest at a rehearsal performance of CMU’s marching Chippewas at Michigan Stadium before the football contest.

Goward, who also is the associate dean of the Fine Arts and Fitness Division at HFCC, received his bachelor’s degree from CMU and a master’s degree from the U of M. In 1982, Goward left Trenton to become a music instructor at HFCC. Goward quickly grew the college’s music program to where it stands today, an internationally recognized program of excellence. In 1983, Goward formed the award-winning Big Band, HFCC’s premier instrumental group. Big Band members have achieved international acclaim by performing at every major jazz festival in the world, including the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. The band has enjoyed remarkable success throughout the years, performing at Carnegie Hall twice, and with such music legends as Maynard Ferguson and the Count Basie Orchestra. The award-winning HFCC Big Band and the HFCC vocal jazz ensemble Midnight Blue has performed for two Presidential Inauguration celebrations, first in January 2001 and most recently in January 2005 at the Michigan Inaugural Dinner Dance in Washington, D.C.

Batcheller graduated from Trenton High School in 1977 and went on to earn a bachelor of science degree in education from CMU. For there, he earned a master’s degree in music performance from Florida State University and a doctor of musical arts degree from the University of Oklahoma. Batcheller was director of bands at Great Falls High School in Montana from 1990 to 1996, when he moved to Oklahoma to pursue his doctoral degree. While pursuing his degree at the University of Oklahoma, he was a member of the university's music faculty. After finishing his degree at the university, he began his career at CMU.

'It’s gratifying to see that so many of my students have gone on to become successful in the music field,' notes Goward. 'All of us share a love of music and enjoy sharing our knowledge and our love of playing music with our students. I am grateful to HFCC and Trenton High School for giving me the opportunity to have a career in music.'