Lee Plummer leads the Mighty Muskie Marching Band along with Jeff Heid at Muscatine High School. MHS’s band consists of over 120 students, the highest enrollment of students in over 15 years.
From a young age, Plummer knew he wanted to be a band director. Both of his parents were band directors at his high school. Plummer said he never really considered any other career path. In college, he taught percussion at Newton High School in their marching band.
Plummer grew up in Lake City, Iowa, and attended what is now South Central Calhoun. In 2013, he graduated from Iowa State University and began teaching at Earlham Community School, then Newell-Fonda, before finally joining Muscatine High School.
Muscatine High School band is not a required class, so all the students have chosen to participate. Plummer believes this has a positive effect on the band. “I think it helps us because we are able to retain more kids from the 8th grade into high school. At many schools, there are a lot of students who quit when they get into high school because they don’t want to do marching band, even though they don’t really know what’s involved in being in marching band.”
Plummer also said students may not show interest at first but join after a while. “We have watched a lot of students move from the Concert Band [non-marching group] to the Varsity Band [marching band] after they see what the marching band students are doing. Basically, if over 120 students are part of a group, there must be something good happening in that group, and the concert band kids start to see that once they come over to the high school.” In addition, the students’ schedules are easier to work around and they can still be involved in other activities.
Plummer said he doesn’t think people realize how much time goes into a director’s job. “Throughout the year, you can find the music staff in the school seemingly at all hours of the day. We invest a lot of our time and energy into making sure we are providing the best opportunities for our students.”
Despite the busy schedule, Plummer says working with the students is the rewarding part. “It is a lot of fun working with students. There are no shortages of funny moments and really heartwarming moments. I believe we really get to work with some of the best students at MHS. They are extremely hard working, and it makes it fun to show up to work every day.”
Plummer wants people to know that his students are dedicated and work hard. “I can attest to the fact that we have a large group of hard-working students in our program. We have a lot of students in honors or AP classes, multiple extracurriculars, and many of them also have jobs outside of the school day. I wish more people out in the community had a chance to see what we see at the school every day.”