A special award of

The John Philip Sousa

Andrew Esserwein has been the Director of Bands at Sprayberry High School in Marietta, GA for the last 20 years. He went to Sprayberry after having been the Assistant Director of Bands at North Cobb High School in Kennesaw, GA for the first 7 years of his teaching career.

He earned his Bachelor of Music in Music Theory from Furman University in Greenville, SC. He then went to Northwestern University in Evanston, IL for his Master of Music in Instrumental Conducting.

Esserwein is highly thought of by his colleagues as he has been selected twice to serve as the Georgia Music Educators District 12 Chairperson. He was named the GMEA Volunteer of the year in 2020. He has been a finalist for the Fox 5 High Five Teacher of the Year for the state of Georgian 2018; this followed upon his induction into the Zeta Chapter of Phi Beta Mu in 2017.

He has served the profession by volunteering to create and implement an online system for the Middle and High School Bands District and State Level auditions. This ensured that students across Georgia were able to audition during the Covid year 2020-21. He has served in the State Level All-State High School Band Tabulation Room and has been its coordinator for several years. He also was the organizer for the GMEA District 12 Honor Band and First Round All-State Auditions for the last 10+ years. He truly embodies the position of a leader without the glories.

The Bandworld Legion of Honor was established in 1989 to honor, over the course of a year, eight of the finest band directors in our business.

Recipients have taught for at least fifteen years, have maintained a very high-quality concert band program, and have contributed significantly to the profession through dedication to bands and band music.

Each is honored at the annual Sousa Foundation awards ceremony during the Midwest Band Clinic in Chicago, Illinois.

Chairman of the Legion of Honor Committee is Terry Austin, Virginia Commonwealth University.

If you were to ask Andrew about his philosophy he would begin with, “On the simplest level, my professional philosophy is to strive to instill a lifelong love of music in all my students and to teach them skills through performance that will help them throughout their lives. Certainly, there are many layers to this goal, but when a student leaves my program I want them to have a foundation of musical understanding that allows them to appreciate, perform and love music even though they may not be actively involved in it in their professional life. I also want them, through working toward high levels of performance in our concert, marching, jazz, winter guard and percussion programs, to become proficient in important life skills like working in teams, setting goals, being confident in difficult situations, and managing their time in extremely busy situations (among others).” Through the safe place and trust he has helped to build, more and more students are feeling loved and nurtured. He then adds, ”Through this established trust, we can teach increasingly more advanced musical and practical concepts to our students which (in almost every case) help us to achieve our goal of building a lifelong love of music. While many of our students may not become professional musicians, band directors or college professors, we know that the skills they learn (both musical and social) will help them to be better people and will give them an area to find beauty in their lives.”

When asked about the factors which shaped his future he would begin with great mentors and teachers like: Alfred Watkins, Gary Gribble, John Carmichael, Leslie Hicken, John Paynter and others. He also adds spending his entire career in Cobb County is a constant motivator. It is great to hear him say, ”I am a very blessed person who has been surrounded by many wonderful people and musical programs that have helped me to be a better teacher and person. I am incredibly grateful for each of them.”