Taped to Barry Enzman's Glenelg High School blackboard is a 1-foot model rocket next to a laminated quotation attributed to a "famous band director."
When members of his marching unit stray during practice, he has been known to chide them: "I didn't ask you to build a rocket. I asked you to move from here to here in 16 counts. This isn't NASA stuff."
But keeping in mind that "there is no such thing as perfection," Mr. Enzman expects achievements no less cosmic of his young musicians, and they eagerly deliver.
His ensembles have delivered more than 60 awards on local and national competitions and performed at international music festivals in the last four years.
Mr. Enzman, Glenelg's music teacher of 17 years, will be named Teacher of the Year by the Maryland Music Educators Association today in his classroom.
But Mr. Enzman, 40, doesn't need an award to earn the attention of hopeful musicians in West County. Getting into his music program is something some children prepare for as early as elementary school.
"The Glenelg band came to my elementary school a long, long time ago, and I saw Mr. Enzman and the jazz band," said Chris Winters, a 16-year-old junior from Mount Airy.
From then on, he set his sights on playing in that band. This summer he will play alto saxophone with the Jazz Ensemble at international music festivals in Montreaux, Switzerland, and Amsterdam, Holland.
"Your expectations dictate how the students are going to perform," said Mr. Enzman of his teaching style.
But unlike some other music directors, "Mr. E" does not preside over a high-pressure, tightly controlled environment, said Chris Vaccari, 17, who plays trombone for the Jazz Ensemble and Symphonic Band.
"He makes it a little more fun, instead of all pressure," he said. "It's a little looser, it's a little more relaxed. I think you make more friends out of it that way. That may be why it's more successful."
Chris said he believes the students are inspired by competition, not pressure.
Competing certainly has its rewards, as Ian Timorurian, a 17-year-old senior, found out his freshman year.
"We saw Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie" when the Jazz Ensemble went to Europe in 1990 to the North Sea and Montreaux jazz festivals. Both jazz legends have since died.
Mr. Enzman said he tries to do more than teach music. After all, not all of his students will go on to study at Julliard or play in the Boston Symphony, as some have.
He wants the 140 students now in his program to leave with the self-discipline and self-esteem necessary for success in whatever they decide to do with their lives.
No matter what they want to do, Mr. Enzman encourages them to "just do the gig," and not become complacent.
"I want them to know that you can achieve a high level of excellence," he said. "It is achievable at any level if the desire and commitment is there."
Mr. Enzman has not confined his talents to the classroom. During the summer, he tours Europe as band director of the United States Music Ambassadors, an honors band with members from Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Virginia.
Near the beginning of his Glenelg career, he toured one summer as a saxophonist for the Edgar Winter Group.