Memory Stories‎ > ‎

Memory #5 - How Bob Cotter Brought Out the Best, by Joe Donahey

posted Jul 22, 2012, 7:03 AM by Largo Gold

It should not come as any surprise that many of my memories of Bob and the BOG are of practice sessions during the school year and at camps. It was very early on in my relationship with the Boss and the Band that I learned how well planned and thought out those sessions were. Bob and the active staff of the moment would frequently meet following a practice, in the office or else where, discuss what happened in the just completed session and he would formulate the goals for the next practice. Some of you may not have known that those practice sessions were so carefully planned, down to and including the amount of time that would be spent on each segment.

In the field shows of other bands, did you ever notice how so many of them started off really strong? Your first impression would be, “wow, they’re really good,” and then as their show moved on, it slowly lost its sparkle. The music became muddled and unclear, the attacks and releases were gone, the dynamics disappeared, the clarity was gone and their marching fell off right along with the music. Oh, sometimes their performances would pick up again with the finale and sometimes not, but in any case the inside of the show would deteriorate into a disaster. This was not the case with Band of Gold shows because he would not let it be. Do you remember how many times rehearsals began with the second, third or fourth numbers, or for that matter the finale? He would explain that the level of focus and concentration varied during a practice, therefore the order of rehearsal must also be varied.

Have you ever reflected on the gatherings in the center of the field at the end of a field rehearsal? Your initial response might be, well yes; we got together for an announcement and to review what had occurred during the practice. That would be quite correct but, take a moment and reflect upon what else occurred on many of those occasions. First of all, you gathered in a group - as a team - as a family. Many times, salve was administered to wounds inflicted during the practice in the form of words of praise and encouragement. It was a wonderful thing to be a part of, to watch him bring you down and then build you back up. Sometimes the motivation came in the form of criticism and challenges, and other times in the form of praise and encouragement. It was a marvel to me, how he seemed to know what was needed when and in what amount. After we developed a really close working relationship, it would sometimes become my role to be the bad guy and he the good guy and sometimes the roles would be reversed, but his goal was always the same, increasing the challenge just a little bit more, getting you to push yourselves just a little bit more and moving you to levels of performance that I suspect you never realized you were capable of.

It was a wonderful talent that he possessed. I’m sure you recognize now, if you did not then, that it was a rare talent, one that we are very fortunate to encounter at least once in a lifetime; so many never have the benefit of such an experience.

Joe Old Yellow Pad Donahey