On March 10, former PHS band director Bill Laughlin received a new award to add to his collection. After working in music education for 35 years, Laughlin has been selected to be a part of the Indiana Bandmasters Hall of Fame through the Phi Beta Mu fraternity.
“I had no idea I was even on the radar for this kind of award, for most guys receive it after several years of retirement. I was really blown away by not only the consideration, but the actual award vote as well,” said Laughlin.
Phi Beta Mu, the International Bandmasters Fraternity, was first started in 1939 by Colonel Earl D. Irons at the Rice Hotel in Houston, Texas with only six members. Since then, the fraternity has grown considerably, with 34 chapters in the United States, three chapters in Canada and one chapter in Brazil.
“Phi Beta Mu is a non-political, non-profit fraternity organized to promote fellowship among its members, to encourage the building of better bands and the development of better musicians in schools throughout the world, to foster a deeper appreciation for quality wind literature, and to encourage widespread interest in band performance,” said Phi Beta Mu’s mission statement.
Laughlin has been a part of the Paoli band for over 30 years now and has made a big impact on the band program and our community as a whole. As head band director, Laughlin led the band to 15 State Championships and numerous State appearances. Laughlin has also traveled around the world with the band, visiting places such as New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Orlando, Italy and many European countries.
In 2001, Laughlin was nominated by three members of the fraternity to be a part of the group. After he was investigated for a year by members, his invitation into the group was voted on by members of the fraternity. He was then inducted into the fraternity and has since served as a member, and he has even served as the Gamma Chapter’s President a few different times. In 2004, he and two other people were nominated for the “Outstanding Band Director of the Year” award, and Laughlin ended up being the person who received it. For the “Hall of Fame” award, the fraternity nominates two or three retired band directors and then the group votes on which person they believe deserves the award.
“I am both humbled and honored to know that my very successful colleagues think of me in such a way as to recognize my teaching career as a positive and successful one,” said Laughlin.
Story by Michael Hannon