Harmon elected to lead ISSMA

By: 
Kate Wehlann, Staff Writer

Bonnie Harmon has her hands full.

As band director for the Salem Marching Lions, she’s in full band season swing, eagerly preparing for the annual Salem Band Invitational (Saturday, Sept. 8) while getting her band ready to perform in exhibition and compete in the rest of the season. She has her music classes, her work as co-president of the Salem Classroom Teachers Association, being a loving co-parent with Richard Trueblood to Trueby, the most important of band cats, and now, presiding over the Indiana State School Music Association. She assumed the presidency of the organization this year.

“I was vice president last year,” Harmon said. “The year before that, my friend Tim Johnston, who is the band director at Scottsburg, called and asked if I’d be interested in a nomination for president. I said, ‘Sure!’ and this past spring, they held their election and I was voted president!

“I was honored and humbled,” she continued. “It’s a little scary, but that’s how things start. They’re scary, then they get fun.”

Harmon has been a band director at Salem for nearly 30 years and has taught and directed for more than 35 years total. Originally from Owensville, Indiana, she graduated from the University of Evansville with a bachelor’s degree in music education and a master’s in secondary education from Indiana University. After coming to Salem, she has also served as chairman of the middle school fine arts department. In 2013, she led the band to a state Scholastic Class Championship.

Long before that, however, flute in hand, Harmon was an ISSMA kid.

“I started in ISSMA when I was in fourth grade,” she said. “I grew up with ISSMA being the structure of Indiana music. Our band directors were always ISSMA members and they took us to competitions and events.”

Was serving in this capacity ever on her radar?

“Never,” she said. “I never dreamed. I’d help on committees and with events, but I never saw this happening. That’s probably what makes it so wonderful. I never expected this.”

She said Johnston is a past president who will help her adjust to the new responsibilities and said the office staff of the ISSMA Indianapolis office have been very helpful.

“They do all the hard work,” she said. “There’s Executive Director Mick Bridgewater, Instrumental Education Director Mark Middleton and Choral Education Director Scott Bradford — these are not just really important people with ISSMA, but dear friends. Working with them is a dream in this formula. They really care about the kids and music and that shows in everything they do. Plus, it’s always good to work with friends.

“It’s a great honor,” she added. “It means everything to me. It’s a real milestone in my teaching career.”

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