Recently Mickey Grove, longtime band director at Kosciusko High School, had a chance to reflect on his career.
“I graduated from Jackson Central High School, which had an excellent band program. I went on to Hinds Junior College, and some of my roommates were music majors. I became interested in that as well, and majored in music education, finishing my degree at Ole Miss,” said Grove.
His first job out of college was at Indianola, where he worked for 10 years. When his principal, Cadman Porter, moved to Kosciusko as principal of KHS, Porter asked Grove to apply for the band job.
The rest, as they say, is history.
After coming to Kosciusko in 1970, he stayed for 20 years, retiring in 1990. While working as director, Grove spent summers teaching band camps at several universities and was able to work with some drum and bugle corps as well.
“The band tradition here is excellent, and I am honored to be a part of it,” said Grove.
Although the Big Red Band has won too many awards to mention, Grove was able to name a few.
“The Bands of America competition in Whitewater, WI, was the first national contest we had ever entered. We competed with bands from all over the U.S., and we won our class,” he said. He also remembered Big Red winning all-superiors in rankings at the state contests for many years.
Big Red also always had some members make Lions Band as well.
“We always had kids in the Lions Band, and they got some wonderful trips out of it. The local Lions Club has been very supportive in sponsoring the students,” Grove said.
The amount of travel that the band did forced Grove to be creative in frugal ways to travel.
“I had to be innovative in traveling and spending a minimum amount of money. We would sleep on the gym floors of schools, and all we had to do was clean up after ourselves,” he remembered with a smile.
Grove has fond memories of all of his students, and in particular, mentioned Mike Brunt and Phillip Mink.
“I am very pleased that they wanted to honor me, and very grateful. Both of them have kept up their music and still play, which makes an old band director feel good,” he said.
After retirement, Grove continued his career in music.
“I worked at Mississippi Music for 10 years, where I did sales and was band rep. I enjoyed talking to band directors all over the state,” he said.
He also spent six years as assistant manager of the Lions Band.
“I was able to travel, and particularly enjoyed the trips to Taiwan and Australia,” Grove said.
He also served as a judge of bands and color guards at various contests.
Grove was choir director at the First United Methodist Church for several years, and enjoyed getting to know local musicians.
“I got to know both student and adult musicians and we did musicals as well,” he said. “The auditorium is a wonderful place for performances; it is truly the best auditorium in this area.”
He is particularly fond of the orchestra pit.
“It is one of the best pits around when it comes to sound, and I am glad that it will be preserved. I am also happy to know that the lighting and the restrooms will be upgraded,” he said.
As for Grove Hall, which will be named after him, he feels honored to be a part of it.
“There will be a feature in the lobby honoring former drum majors, and I hope to be able to have a display of old uniforms there. I have at least six coats of Big Red uniforms from the past, some dating back to the sixties, that would look great on mannequins, and I’d love to hear past students come back and say, ‘That’s the uniform I wore,’” Grove said.
He also sees Grove Hall as a great opportunity to display the most outstanding trophies from years past, as well as pictures.
“It will be a pictorial history of the band and a lot of memorabilia from the past. In addition, we hope to have displays from the Kosciusko Little Theater group. The foyer will be a great gathering point for people to browse before going to a performance,” the former director said.
As for what he is doing now, Grove said that he is completely retired now.
“I love camping, and I like to take my motor home to the various state parks in Mississippi,” he said.
But he will never fully let go of Big Red.
“I will work with Mrs. Sanders this summer with band camp,” he said. “I want to keep Big Red going.”