For the Farmington High School Black Knight Marching Band, a new era began on July 20 when Tim Karth took the helm as director of Bands at the local high school.
"I can’t wait to get started,” Karth said. “I’m a bit anxious and a bit nervous – not because I can’t do the job but because it is something new.”
Hailing from Glenview, Illinois, Karth began his musical education at Bradley University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Music Education degree. Karth received his Masters in Conducting from the American Band College of Southern Oregon University.
As an educator, Karth brings more than 11 years of teaching experience to the Farmington program as both a band director and choral director as well.
“I began my professional career in Streator, Illinois, where I was the band and choir director for 10 years,” Karth said. “Then I spent one year at Troy Buchanan High School in Troy, Missouri, where I was an assistant band director.”
According to Karth, he was attracted to the Farmington position partially because of the reputation of the music department, and also because he wanted to direct again.
“For me, coming to Farmington allowed me to become a band director again,” Karth said. “But it was also about the passion the school exhibits. From the very first communication from the district, you could tell they took great pride in their program. When I got to meet the band staff and walked into the band room for the first time, you could tell there was pride from those who were in the department and from the community.”
For Karth, the pride and commitment to the program is also obvious in the students that he has already met.
“The students here do not talk like regular high school students, at least the ones I have met don’t,” Karth said. “They are excited about band, their education and about becoming better.”
Karth added the students are a reflection of the program Kurt Bauche and Linda Huck started.
“Kurt and Linda did an excellent job training their students that it is about the journey of becoming a better player, person and student instead of just the end result,” Karth said. “It’s the same philosophy I have talked to my students about all the time.”
While Karth is taking over a program that has been successful for more than 30 years and is steeped in tradition, the new director says he is not too interested in making any major changes, especially during his first year.
“I have told some of my students and some band parents that this whole first year is about me learning how things work,” Karth said. “Then I can steer the ship in a direction I think it needs to go. Right now, I am too new to make any big changes or to steer us in a different direction.”
In addition, Karth sees having two experienced band directors in the area as a plus and plans to use both Bauche and Huck as sources of information when needed.
“It would be insane not to call on Linda or Kurt’s experience for help,” Karth said. “And to look at a student and tell him or her not to mention their names would also be insane. They are the ones who built this program. It’s now my turn to carry on what they were doing and I am ready to get started.”
Although Karth doesn’t plan on making any big changes this year, the new director did make an adjustment to the band camp this summer. Instead of going to practice three times a day, they are now just spending the whole day at camp.
“I have worked with a lot of different schedules for band camp,” Karth said. “What I have noticed is when there are long gaps in between practices, students are hard to get motivated, so I would rather just work our way straight through the day.”
Karth also said he thinks this year’s new band camp schedule is much more convenient for his students as well.
“By going straight through, it gives are students a chance to have some family time,” Karth said. “It will also allow some of our older kids a chance to still work, which I know is very important.”
Once the school year begins, Karth will be working with the concert band, jazz band and the steel drums.
“I hope I can make it down to Lincoln Elementary and work with the beginners,” Karth said. “I also want to work with the 7th and 8th graders so they get a chance to know me and want to stay in band when they get to high school.”
Karth and the marching band premiere their hard work from band camp for the first time at 10 a.m. on Aug. 1 at Haile Memorial Stadium.