Under the 46-year leadership of Greg Bimm, Marian Catholic High School’s band program grew from 70 students to over 300 and has won numerous awards including seven Bands of America Grand National championships and 42 state titles in its class. The band also has performed in two Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parades, the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade and the 2000 Presidential Inauguration Parade. The Marian Catholic Symphonic Band has been undefeated since 1981 at the State of the Art Catholic High School Band Contest. Now, Bimm is turning over his baton and retiring. He is not entirely leaving Marian Catholic, though. He will serve in an emeritus role in the advancement office, as well as serve as a consultant to the band program and write shows. Bimm said he had dreamed of being a band director since he was in fifth grade. He comes from a musical family where playing the trumpet was a tradition. His father and his grandfather both played the instrument. “It was sort of natural that I was going to learn the trumpet because my dad loved the trumpet,” Bimm said “I fell in love with it right away, so I knew in fifth grade that I wanted to be a band director.” His father, a television repairman, worked long hours but never missed a practice with his son. “At 9 o’clock at night we would practice for an hour when he got home from working 12 hours. He would practice with me without fail. I’m a little fifth grader. I didn’t understand. I just thought it was time to practice with Dad,” Bimm said. Looking back at it, his father must have been exhausted, he said, but practicing with his son was important to him. Bimm followed his dream and landed at Marian Catholic as band director in 1977. At first, he planned to stay only a few years. But support from the administration allowed Bimm to grow the band into a nationally recognized program. “Marian Catholic has been the exact right place for me, considering all that I need or all that I am,” he said. “It’s been a really wonderful blessing to be here.” Bimm credits the students for all the titles the band has earned. “We have never gone to a contest trying to win the contest. I learned early on that winning contests can’t be the goal. It can’t be what you try to do,” he said. Instead, he bases the program on striving for excellence. “The first thing we talk about is not how to play or how to play in tune or anything like that,” Bimm said. “The first thing we talk about is being good human beings.” That is summed up in the band’s motto, “PRIDE — Personal Responsibility in Daily Effort.” “We talk about doing the right thing when nobody’s watching,” he said. “If you’re true to the personal responsibility and you’re true to pursuing excellence, good things happen.” Fine arts programs help form students in positive ways not found in other subject areas, he said. “No matter how much you know, you can’t study your way into a good performance. It’s the combination of mind and soul and the physical nature that puts that all together,” said Bimm. “It’s different from other things.” Music performed in groups also teaches students to support each other and work as a team. “If you’re in the clarinet section and you played your part perfectly, but the person next to you was playing the wrong notes, the audience is going to hear the wrong notes,” he explained. “So the reliance from person to person is incredibly strong. I believe it’s even stronger here than on a great athletic team.” Over the years, Bimm inspired many students to pick up an instrument even if they never thought about it before. One of those students was Jeremy Turner, now the assistant band director at Marian Catholic. Bimm holds a clinic for band directors from across the country titled “‘Hot Cross Buns’ to ‘Hindemith,’” Turner said, where he explains his process of taking students from playing very simple music to playing one of the most complicated pieces bands can perform. Turner is a product of that process, and it changed the trajectory of his life. “I didn’t play an instrument until I walked in the door,” Turner said. “I was ‘Hot Cross Buns.’” But through Bimm’s inspiration, Turner has made a life out of music and has traveled the country for his craft. “All of that happened because of him, because of how he approaches things, because of his leadership, because of what’s he’s built at Marian. And that’s just one story personally out of thousands,” Turner said. Bimm’s influence extends to the wider high school band community in the United States, Turner said. “There’s not a single band director who doesn’t know that name [Greg Bimm] or hasn’t been impacted by what it is that he does, or what he has done or what he continues to do and his relentless pursuit of what it means to be excellent at something, to work at something, to what it means to be passionate about something” he said. Bimm teaches his students about passion and a strong work ethic, Turner noted. “I think that’s the biggest thing that I’ve taken away — and I think it’s the biggest thing that a lot of these directors have taken away — is that when you’re really passionate about something it doesn’t matter what it takes. You’re going to do it,” he said. Turner said the message of being a good human has stayed with him. “If you can leave here and play saxophone well, but you’re terrible as a human, who cares? But if you can leave here and you’re an OK saxophone player, but you are genuinely trying to make the world around you a better place in the ways that you can … that is important,” Turner said.