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International Honor Is Music to Alumni's Ears

By Tami Dimock

Linda Gammon, M.A. Conducting '95, has always been interested in music. She began taking piano lessons in the second grade. In the fifth grade, she joined her school's band. By the time she was a freshman in high school, she knew she wanted to be a band director.

Gammon realized her dream. Seven years ago, after directing bands in several area schools, she settled in as the middle school band director and chair of the Music Department at Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax. It is a job that she truly adores¬a combination of her love for music, children, and education.

"I really enjoy interacting with the students," says Gammon of her work. "I think it's great for kids to be involved in a disciplined activity in which they work toward a common goal. And then there's the feeling of doing a good job at our performances."

More like a superior job. This year, Gammon received the John Philip Sousa Foundation's Sudler Cup Award, the highest international honor that a middle school concert band can receive. Even more exciting is that Gammon won the award the first year she was eligible to do so, as one of the criteria for eligibility stipulates that the winning band director must have been in his or her position for at least seven years.

"It's a career goal, so of course it's very exciting," Gammon says on winning the Sudler Cup. "It's something that I've worked for for many years, and it's nice to receive recognition for a job well done."

In order to qualify for the Sudler Cup, a band must receive "superior" ratings at state, regional, national, and professional conventions; regional or national Music Educators National Conference (MENC) meetings; and state or national band association conventions. Members of the band will have participated in district or state honor bands, and the total program must exemplify a "sound and viable music education program," according to the John Philip Sousa Foundation.

The Sudler Cup was presented to Gammon on May 29 at her band's spring performance, titled "A Celebration Concert" in honor of the occasion. Each student in the band received a special certificate, and Robinson Secondary School was given a commemorative plaque. Concert attendees included several Fairfax County School Board members and Katherine Hanley, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. In addition, the band received congratulatory letters from the governor of Virginia and several state senators.

"I'm so proud of all the students," says Gammon, who is president of the Virginia Band and Orchestra Directors Association and a past recipient of the Optimist Club's Achievement in Education Award for outstanding contributions to education.

When asked which of her George Mason classes contributed the most to success in her career, Gammon replied, "I can honestly say that all the courses I took for my master's degree were very relevant to what I'm doing in education."

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