By Lynn Spahr/Staff Writer

When a band program gets a new director, there’s always a transition period as students learn the new director’s expectations and the director learns about the students.

The director’s attitude can make all the difference.

After being the head band director at Buhler High School for more than 15 years, Eric Stambaugh brings new energy and excitement to the Hutchinson Community College’s band program.

Mr. Stambaugh instructing a class

“Kids are hungry, they want to be great,” Stambaugh said. “I like the atmosphere of kids starting their new chapter in their life, that’s fun to watch. And it also excites me to see where this program can go long term.”

Stambaugh’s excitement about the program is infectious, and the students have taken notice. “He’s interesting, very ecstatic about what he does, and I’m very glad for that. Makes your day better when he’s ecstatic about what he does,” said Joey Clark, McPherson freshman.

Stambaugh uses personal stories, such as memorable gifts from his son, to teach music or lighten the mood, and it works. These stories inspire laughter and seem to help students understand what he’s asking of them. There are moments of frustration, too, but they never last long.

“There’s a lot of positivity I think … He’s gonna make you do what you’re supposed to, but overall it’s going to be welcoming,” said Harrison Morris, a Buhler freshman.

This balance of pushing students while remaining patient and positive is helping to create a comfortable atmosphere.

Stambaugh, who also is an assistant soccer coach at Buhler High School, has some long-term plans for the band, as well.

“Yeah, I’ve got an 8 to 10-year plan,” he said. “I kinda keep it to myself because it really depends on the amount of kids that come in. And the long-term plan is based on my recruitment within the next couple years.”

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