From a middle-school band student to a band director now himself, Bernie Hendricks has been involved in some capacity with the Florida Bandmasters Association for years.
Now, the Ocoee High band director is preparing to serve the organization itself as he steps into the role of FBA’s president-elect.
The mission of FBA is to promote and support band programs throughout the state by providing opportunities for in-service growth, program evaluation and student performance. It’s the governing body of middle- and high-school band programs in Florida.
“I think the underlying goal is just to be able to support and produce better band programs throughout the state of Florida,” Hendricks said.
Throughout his educational career, Hendricks grew and learned through FBA. His middle and high school band directors, as well as his directors at Florida A&M University, all were FBA members.
When Hendricks began his career teaching at Orlando’s Robinswood Middle in 1997, it was only natural he continue his involvement with the FBA as a professional. Now, he’s been at Ocoee High for 16 years. His love of music and the performing arts is evident, but for Hendricks, it’s building relationships with his students that keeps him going.
“That’s why I love it,” he said of teaching. “For me, the music is great, the band pageantry is great and I love it, but I love building relationships. ... For me, it’s always boiled down to building relationships and just being there for kids, watching them grow into young adults.”
That coincides with FBA’s mission of developing band programs and striving to ensure that they are available to all students who want to be part of a band.
“I think it’s a huge responsibility, because music education has done so much for me, personally.” — Bernie Hendricks
“There should be no barrier that would stop a kid who wants to be part of a band program to be in that band program,” he said. “They should all have the opportunity to experience (it), and that’s one of the things that drives me to do more with FBA. It (also) deals with networking of mentoring young directors and directors that have been in it for a while, just making sure that the learning environment is conducive to not only the teachers but students, as well. I think it’s a huge responsibility, because music education has done so much for me, personally.”
As president-elect, Hendricks is committing to a six-year term of service. Two years are spent as president-elect, two as president and two as past president.
When it comes to choosing a president-elect, an FBA committee selects two candidates it feels would represent the organization well. Then, the membership votes.
Hendricks calls his selection “really humbling,” especially because it’s voted on by peers and fellow band directors. He also noted that it feels surreal to be following in the footsteps of James “Chief” Wilson, who was the first person of color to serve FBA as president more than 40 years ago.
“To be able to follow in the footsteps of somebody like Chief Wilson … and live up to the standard he set up for all the directors … I think that’s the legacy that you kind of want to (leave),” Hendricks said.
Going forward, Hendricks is eager to give back to the organization that gave so much to him. One of the first orders of business he hopes to work on is bringing back programs and directors that were greatly impacted by COVID-19.
“Just the opportunity to be able to lead an organization, to have the trust of my peers, it’s very, very humbling,” he said. “I’m excited. I think that where we are as an organization, we’re in a good place. Our current and past leadership has done a good job — especially coming through what we have with the pandemic.
“Now it’s time to get back to what we do,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to the challenges. I’m looking forward to just making things better and just trying to build better band programs throughout the state.”