Harmony is Tracy Meldrum’s superpower, according to one of her nomination letters. Like “a composer arranging notes to create rhythms, chords and melodies, Tracy wields harmony to create symphonies of great people. She champions her students to harmonize their originality, voices and talents into a dynamic ensemble of unison,” the letter states.
“It is extremely important to me that we all are accepting of each other above everything else. It’s okay if a couple of people don’t get along, that’s normal; but they MUST respect one another,” Meldrum says. “It is important to me that I am helping to raise good humans who are kind to each other and who realize they are a part of something larger than themselves. I think coming together in music is a wonderful vehicle to help teach all those other life lessons in addition to their musical education.”
Her students have definitely heard and understand her message. This year, Meldrum’s drumline was warming up before a football game, and they invited the other team’s drumline to warm up with them. “I love to see them accepting each other and other bands with open arms and kindness. That’s when I know I’m getting through,” she says.
A tradition for the Verrado High School band is singing “Bridge Over Troubled Water” after every performance. Meldrum explains that for their first competitive marching band season, they played several Simon and Garfunkel songs, and that particular ballad conveys a timeless message. “I really wanted a song that would be truly meaningful to the kids no matter what year they were a part of the program, but also one that would hold sentimental value throughout the history of the entire program,” she says. “Now, all alumni and staff can come together and sing, and it is beyond powerful, and so special.”
Meldrum believes that music should not be an elitist program, so she has implemented several ways to offset band costs. In addition to fundraisers where students sell things like chocolate and sponsorships where donors are mentioned in programs or on banners, Meldrum started a “student X” fund. “Sometimes parents will donate a little extra to go where I want it to go, and I will put it into ‘student X,’ so if someone is coming up a little short, I have the means to help them,” she says.
Meldrum has also taken advantage of Arizona’s tax credit program where residents can indicate that they want their tax credit money ($200 for individuals or $400 if filing jointly) to go to their school and even to a specific program and a specific student. She created a form letter that students can slightly edit and send to their family and neighbors. “We have done ‘mailing days’ where I provide envelopes and return envelopes, and students provide stamps and addresses. We stuff envelopes with the letters, proper forms and return envelopes and send them out,” she says.