The Wisconsin School Music Association Marching Band Hall of Fame is intended to recognize the contributions made by individuals to the marching activity in Wisconsin and is open to any person that has made a significant contribution.
2020 Hall of Fame Inductee: Tom Cook
Tom Cook has played an integral part in marching activity in the state of Wisconsin for decades. His work as an educator, adjudicator and WSMA Marching Band committee member has impacted thousands of students and fostered the growth of the marching arts in Wisconsin.
Mr. Cook became involved in marching band activity in 1971 as a freshman at Rock Falls High School in Illinois. His older sister convinced him to join the championship Marching Rockets under the direction of Mid-American Competing Band Directors Association (MACBDA) hall of fame member Richard C. Davis. His love for band and music flourished and he hasn’t looked back. In 1974, Mr. Cook joined the Blue Stars Drum & Bugle Corps from La Crosse, Wisconsin and enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse to study music education and march with the UW-L Chiefs (now the Screaming Eagles).
Mr. Cook received his Bachelor’s Degree in 1979 and began his teaching career shortly after at Stockton, Illinois CUSD where he taught band. While there, he began the marching and jazz programs which finished several times in the top 10 of their class in IHSA Music Sweepstakes. In 1984, Mr. Cook continued his career as the high school band teacher in Prairie du Chien, WI. The Blackhawk Brigade High School marching band was formed under his direction, and soon after began participating in the MACBDA summer circuit and Wisconsin fall shows with a culminating performance at the 1985 WSMA State Marching Band Championships. Prairie du Chien High School was awarded back-to-back Class A Championships in 1987 and ’88.
He continued his career in 1990 at Fort Atkinson High School where his bands continued to see immediate success. Fort Atkinson High School proudly participated in WSMA activities placing 1st in the Class AA State Championships in 2003. The band finished in the top three in Class AA or AAA multiple times over 23 years of participation. The jazz program has been nationally recognized and has earned top status at UW-La Crosse, UW-Whitewater and UW-Eau Claire Jazz Festivals multiple times along with 21 straight Division I awards at WSMA State Festivals. The concert band also earned top awards and toured England in 2008 along with many performances at Walt Disney World over the years.
Mr. Cook received his master’s degree from VanderCook College of Music in 2001. In addition to marching and jazz band, Mr. Cook taught the high school concert band, pep band, music theory, orchestral winds, show choir combo and was the music department chair until his retirement in 2014.
While at Fort Atkinson, Mr. Cook was nominated for the Herb Kohl Foundation Award and the Wildermuth Award. Previous awards include 1985 Prairie du Chien Teacher of the Year, February 2014 Rotary Educator of the Month and recognized as July 2014 Channel 3000 Top-Notch Teacher. WSMA and WMEA presented him with the Wisconsin Award for Excellence in Teaching Music in 2014.
Mr. Cook is also a highly sought after marching band adjudicator through CSJA, MACBDA and WSMA and an honors band clinician for conference festivals in Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin. WSMA is privileged to have worked with Mr. Cook in multiple capacities through the WSMA State Marching Band Committee and the WSMA High School State Honors Music Project. As stated by a teaching colleague, “I’ve worked with many wonderful music educators in the past 30 years. None as fine as Tom Cook.”