From marching on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium at Grand Nationals Championships to learning conducting from Koji Mori at the Summer Symposium, Hailey Woock’s journey to music education has been memorable.
As a member of the Lincoln Way High School marching band from New Lenox, IL, Hailey traveled to Bands of America (BOA) Regionals, including the Indianapolis and St. Louis Super Regionals and Grand National Championships. It was at these events that she first saw bands such as Blue Springs High School and Castle High School perform. The added experience of performing with her school’s band in a professional stadium brought the magic to light of what music-making could do. These BOA trips are the reason Hailey first started wanting to become a music educator.
Over the years, Hailey moved through the ranks of her band, ultimately becoming drum major. Her leadership positions offered insight into all of the unseen work, but also the fun activities and trips that a band director manages. Marching in the 2019 Tournament of Roses Parade showed Hailey how much planning band directors and staff put into a band program. Traveling with a large group required planning for rehearsal spaces, food, housing, transportation, and many other logistical facets. But the experience of the trips and concerts made all the preparation worthwhile. This insight only solidified her career goal. Hailey says she thought, “I can get paid to do this?”
In order to build her leadership and conducting skills, Hailey attended the drum major track of the 2017 and 2018 Music for All Summer Symposium. At this camp, Hailey gained a new appreciation for time management skills. Time is one thing that you never have enough of, so she learned to prep the night before for a better and more efficient day at camp. These new habits carried over into college life to help her excel in her studies.
What inspired Hailey most at the Music for All Summer Symposium was the opportunity to meet and work with some of her idols, such as Bobby Lambert and Taylor Watts. Hailey recalls Lambert knowing everyone’s name and remembering details about them, even though he had just met the campers. She admired Watts for the little things he did, like taking off his sunglasses when talking to a student to make eye contact. His actions made her feel welcome and important, and showed her how to be a better educator and a better person. Hailey states, “I learned at the Summer Symposium the foundations of being a good human. The rest, like conceptual skills, follows, but being a good person and a good leader is what makes an educator.”
That newfound skillset and confidence carries over into her daily life, where Hailey is currently completing her senior year studying music education at Illinois State University (ISU). She is also proud to be entering her third year as drum major for the ISU Big Red Marching Machine. Her emphasis on service and betterment of her community is displayed through her many positions as a private lesson instructor, band librarian, and sister of Tau Beta Sigma. For Hailey, it always comes back to the small things and compassion for students.
Hailey’s journey will come full-circle this spring, when she will begin student teaching. From being a band student in high school inspired by her peers, instructors, and experiences to becoming a music educator who can offer those opportunities and inspiration to their own students.
To all the future musicians and music educators out there Hailey leaves one piece of advice: “Just go for what you want. There’s no need to doubt your abilities, the worst thing you can be told is no. And who knows, it might turn out to be a life-changing experience in the end.”