So You Want to Lead the Band

Back in the golden days of black and white television, there was a show that caught my attention. The name of this show was, So You Want to Lead a Band. The program began as a gimmick in the repertoire of Sammy Kaye, a famous orchestra leader from the...


Back in the golden days of black and white television, there was a show that caught my attention. The name of this show was, So You Want to Lead a Band. The program began as a gimmick in the repertoire of Sammy Kaye, a famous orchestra leader from the big band era.

This show was built upon the premise that there were people across America who dearly wanted to be the leader of a big band musical organization. Perhaps it was the earliest incarnation of American Idol.

People would be brought up from the audience and handed the leader's baton. The show began on radio and then, like many radio shows of the era, moved over to television. I can recall as a young child seeing it with my parents each week on the ABC television network.

It was a really neat concept. Perhaps it would be called a reality show where it on the air today. Real people were allowed to experience something not a part of their normal lives. Some people thought they knew how to conduct, when they didn't have a clue. This quickly became evident when they were asked to perform the duties of bandleader.

Rare indeed was the individual who could just step up to the podium and bring forth melodious sounds from Sammy Kaye's band. What made it even better was that Kaye's musicians were so good at following the gyrations of their amateur bandleaders that the results were truly humorous. Perhaps a great part of my love for music was fostered at an early age by watching this musical satire.

There is a lesson to be learned from this classic television show for each of us here in the fire service. People all around the world are seeking to lead their local fire departments. Unfortunately many have spent precious little time learning anything about people, leadership, management, or firefighting strategy and tactics.

These people just want what they want. And they want it now, regardless of the consequences for the people in their organization. The needs of the organization can be damned for all they care. They want to lead the band and don