"The icing on the cake." That's what Andrew Gekoskie, director of bands at Langley High School, calls his recent award. On May 21, the National Band Association (NBA) presented Gekoskie with a Citation of Excellence for his work with the Langley High School Wind Symphony, at the National Association for Music Education's 59th National Biennial In-Service Conference (MENC).
Gekoskie counts the wind symphony's performance at the MENC one of his most rewarding career moments. He excitedly recalled his band's performance at the MENC: "We were the only high-school band at the convention." In fact, the band was selected out of 200 applicants vying to perform at the convention.
Yet the band's performance at the MENC — and Gekoskie's resultant award — are not as important to Gekoskie as the band itself. "The kids are just top-notch," he said. "They motivate me every day and push me."
THE BAND CHALLENGES Gekoskie, but he always pushes the band members to perform better, too. He puts a challenge out to see if the band can succeed, and, he said, it always does. Andrew Leister, a junior at Langley High School and a member of the band, said that since Gekoskie joined Langley two years ago, "our level of performance has skyrocketed."
Victoria Hsia, also a junior at Langley and a member of the band, is happy that the band had a chance to play at Carnegie Hall with Gekoskie last year. As for Gekoskie, he described the experience at Carnegie Hall as "absolutely incredible. When they warmed up there, their eyes were like saucers."
In addition to receiving praise from his students and the NBA, Gekoskie earned compliments from his peers. Stanley Schoonover recommended Gekoskie for his current job at Langley and had the honor of presenting Gekoskie with his award. He thinks of Gekoskie as a "very dedicated and outstanding musician" who is "very good at motivating and inspiring the kids to be successful."
WITHOUT LAURA MCBRIDE, Gekoskie would never have received the award. She is the state representative for Virginia for the NBA, and she nominated Gekoskie for the Citation of Excellence. "We're very blessed in Fairfax County to have great music educators," said McBride about Gekoskie.
While Gekoskie does not direct high-school band for the awards he receives, he does appreciate them. "My true love is concert band and conducting, so it's kind of neat that the concert area is what I've been recognized in," he said.