Midland’s Barker Earns Outstanding Bandmaster Award
Midland University’s Director of Instrumental Activities, Rex Barker, has received the highest honor presented by the Nebraska State Bandmasters Association.
“It’s always humbling, certainly. It was a bit of a surprise,” Barker said. “You don’t ever expect to receive an award like that, but I guess it is in the back of your mind. It’s a goal because you’re trying to emulate the previous award winners. … I want to be like them; I want to accomplish some of the things they’re doing.”
Barker was nominated for the honor by Darren Myers, who was Barker’s assistant director at Millard South High School for 15 years. Currently in his first year at Midland, Barker spent the previous 27 years at Millard South. Prior to that, he taught at Grand Island Northwest High School.
Being a member of the state organization has its benefits, Barker said.
“It presents opportunities to meet with the best minds in our field across the state and also across the nation,” he said. “When we do conferences, we’ll bring in people from around the world to discuss band related topics.”
Barker arrived on a Midland campus that has seen a renewed emphasis on performing arts. Midland offers more than 250 opportunities in the performing arts, and there are plans to increase that number over the next few years. Right now, Barker has 55 students involved in instrumental activities.
“They’re good kids and good students,” he said. “We’re making progress. The enthusiasm is high right now.”
During the football season last fall, Barker re-established the Midland marching band.
“They have done some pretty basic things prior to this year, and I broached that with the group when I came in,” he said. “I said, ‘This is what it can do for us, what do you think?’ … They were a little unsure. I said, ‘Let’s try one and see what you think.’ The audience reaction was good. The kids enjoyed it.”
Earning the Outstanding Bandmaster Award might help Barker as he recruits even more students for the Midland Arts program.
“There is a benefit for having taught in the state as long as I have,” he said. “I have those connections with the directors. They have that a trust built up. They know what I’m like as a director.”
Midland University Arts exists to enhance the experience of the university’s students. The program has been built with the students at the center. Students have opportunities to grow, learn, collaborate and live out their passions.
For additional information about Midland’s performing arts opportunities, visit www.MidlandU.edu.