Frank Troyka instructs
student leaders at Texas
A&M-Commerce student
leadership camp
COMMERCE, TEXAS-Frank Troyka faced a
difficult situation as a young assistant at Lake
Highlands High School. Beloved head band
director Malcolm Helm was seriously ailing
(Helm later passed away from his illness), and
Troyka was given the responsibility of leading
the band in a heart-breaking and difficult
situation. "I needed help," said Troyka. So he
asked for it from students.

A parent offered Troyka the use of their lake
house to gather student leaders and parent
boosters together to collaborate and brain
storm. "We even drew out a rough practice field
on the lawn outside to practice teaching
marching. We just really wanted to keep the
program from going under."
TROYKA TEACHES PRACTICAL
LEADERSHIP SKILLS AT
TAMU-COMMERCE CAMP
Quality student leaders must be quality
teachers too
Troyka credits that experience, along with time spent on tour with noted
motivational speaker and band director Tim Lautzenheiser for igniting his passion
to work with student leaders. "Leadership is about learning to establish
relationships," Troyka says. "Quality leaders must be quality teachers and role
models too."

Troyka, who is now band director at Berkner High School in Richardson, believes
that fundamental "nuts and bolts" instruction at his camp is key to developing better
leaders. Added  a college student and former Berkner band member who works
with Troyka as a camp staff member, "You can't just tell students what to do, you
have to show them...to walk the walk."

Another college student-staff member related this comparison, "If you were a
patient of a doctor, and that doctor walked into the room smoking a cigarette, how
would you feel?" Troyka and his staff teach students that in order to be effective
leaders, they must also be role models.

Most of the students at Troyka's leadership camps like the one held annually at
Texas A&M University-Commerce are high school band students, but Troyka says
he has also taught high school athletes and church youth leaders at similar band
camps throughout the state. "Some of these students are here for the leadership
camp because they are going to be leaders next year, and some are learning
leadership skills and attitudes before they try out to become band leaders in the
future," says Troyka.  "Some will be here this year and next year attend drum major
camp for a different experience."

Along with the leadership camp, the Texas A&M-Commerce summer camp
program offers other camps, such as as color guard, and  drum major camp
featuring Gary Williams of McKinney, occurring at the same time as the leadership
camp. A well-established concert band camp featuring award-winning composer
Samuel Hazo and band director Jeff Bradford, current band director of Lake
Highlands High School, were also highlights of the Texas A&M-Commerce summer
camp program this summer, according to camp director Dr. Scott Atchison.

Although Troyka uses marching band as his laboratory for teaching leadership, he
stresses that leadership is important in all aspects of a band program. "We use
marching band because that's what students are going to be teaching right off the
bat. We work on marching fundamentals because we feel it's important for student
leaders to be good teachers of basic skills such as memorization, efficiency,
accountability and following instructions."  He adds those skills will be
demonstrated by effective students leaders throughout the year, not just marching
season.

Troyka encourages band directors to stay at the camps with their students and
observe instruction. "At the end of the day or in the van on the way home, I want
them to share with each other, to talk about what they learned, and to figure out
together what will work in their own program, and what may not." Troyka stresses
that it's not about doing things the way he does it at Berkner. Rather, basic qualities
of leadership taught at the camp that have worked well for the Berkner program will
probably work with any program. He says those are qualities like effective
communication, fundamental teaching skills, and building relationships.

"Student leaders are most effective "one on one." I  want leaders who are humble
followers as well as capable teachers. It's not about a title, and it's not about
bossing people around. I want students to go back to their schools perceived as
leaders."