By Andy Kanengiser
Mickey Mangum capped off his stellar career as the Long Beach High Bands director on a high note.
After many musical performances were cancelled by the COVID-19 pandemic, Mangum did a splendid job conducting band members in an April 29 live show at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. In early May, the gifted conductor announced his retirement.
Losing Mickey Mangum to retirement is a huge loss for the Gulf Coast district, parents and students say.
“Mr. Mangum is the main reason I kept my son in the district,’’ said band parent Kesha Burnett. “His ability to reach these kids is immeasurable. He will truly be missed.’’
Student musicians performing in Long Beach High bands from one year to the next were truly blessed, Burnett says. Whether they played trumpet, the clarinet, drums, trombone or other instruments, Long Beach High students became much better musicians, added the Navy veteran.
Her son, Jarren Burnett, 17, plays trombone in the band and during the fall suits up on the Bearcats football team.
In a note on his Facebook page, Mangum announced this will be his final time teaching after 27.5 years in the profession. His retirement becomes effective this summer.
“I have had an absolutely wonderful tenure. And I will never forget the wonderful students, teachers, band directors and parents I’ve had the privilege of working with,’’ Mangum said.
He began working with students and teaching music in Mississippi schools in 1994. His work as a standout band director stretches from Manchester Academy in Yazoo City to Kosciusko, Clinton High, and Long Beach High. It includes his service with the Mississippi Lions All State Band, with whom he will continue to work.
“I’d gladly start over and do it all again! I learned more from all of you than you will ever know.’’
As of mid-summer, Mangum takes on a new role as a regional sales contact for Fear Nothing Music Gear. He will take on a similar role with Best in Class Tours. In addition, he will begin teaching private lessons in his Long Beach studio. The Harrison County resident will also serve as a judge at band performances during fall, winter and spring seasons.
In his social media post, Mangum thanked his parents, Margaret and Larry Mangum, for buying him a drum and leading him on a journey to becoming a musician. He thanked his sister, Robin Mangum, for her strong support. And he commended his wife, Rachel Mangum, for taking on all the duties that went along with her tireless work as the spouse of a band director.
“There are hundreds of band directors who have helped me along the way,’’ Mangum said. “Band, horns down. Parade rest. At ease,’’ he concluded in the post to Long Beach bands supporters. Earlier, Mangum had notified school administrators of his decision to step down.
On his Facebook page, words of congratulations poured in for Mangum’s extraordinary career as a wonderful teacher, tremendous mentor and awesome colleague. Some supporters referred to the Long Beach High band director as the “best of the best.’’
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