Gregg Gilboe said he wanted to be a high school band director ever since his own days in his high school band.
"I had so much fun in high school band, and that was my life," Gilboe said. "I wanted other people to experience that and have as much fun as I did."
Gilboe's dream was realized in 1992 when he was hired as the drum instructor at Huntington Beach High School, where he's worked for the last 20 years.
When the school's band program was threatened to be cut in 1993 — for various reasons, including a lack of feeder programs and teachers retiring — Gilboe was asked by then-Principal Jim Staunton and the parent band booster group to become the school's band director.
Currently, Gilboe teaches the school's orchestra, marching band, wind ensemble, jazz ensembles and drumline, as well as its Academy for the Performing Arts (APA) orchestra.
Gilboe said that, partially because his students are always in the same age group, it's "surreal" that he's been there for 20 years.
"It's interesting because, as a high school band director, it's different than other teachers," Gilboe said. "I see kids for four years. I see them grow up and I see them every day for four hours. We become very much a family … The band had 22 members when I started here, and we're at about 70 now for the past few years."
Gilboe created a marching band tournament, which is in its 19th year and has about 30 schools competing each year.
While the school music programs and APA have won competitions over the years, Gilboe said that winning isn't the most important thing to him. Instead, he said having fun and learning good music are more important for both him and his students.
He also said that he likes to see his students become more appreciative of music. Two or three of his students a year, he said, are music majors.
"I try to teach the kids a love of music," Gilboe said. "I don't tell them what they have to love, but I want them to know good music, what makes it good and why they like it. I hope my students all become educated consumers of music, so the handful of people that do go out and play music will have an audience."
Ac Buenaventura, 17, senior drum major, said Gilboe helped him realize his love of music.
"When I came here in my freshman year, I didn't plan on being in band," Ac said. "At back-to-school night, I decided to join band after talking to Mr. Gilboe. From then on, I knew music was what I was supposed to do."
Gilboe said that while he enjoys teaching, he's a musician first, though he doesn't play much music himself anymore.
"While musicians can be very disciplined, we're also artists," Gilboe said. "We're emotional and we don't necessarily like being told exactly what to do all the time. So, I think I'm a little bit looser than some of the other teachers, but the kids respect that."
Ac said he's taken several music classes with Gilboe, where he's learned music theory and collaborating with others on a common goal of playing music.
"I'm a senior now, and I wanted to give back to the band, so I tried out to be drum major so I could lead a great group of people," Ac said. "Now I have the opportunity to and I love it. That's because of Mr. Gilboe, who opened doors for me musically and just made me an overall better person."