Social Impact Heroes: Why & How Antoine Miller of Sounds of Success Marching Band Is Helping To…

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Social Impact Heroes: Why & How Antoine Miller of Sounds of Success Marching Band Is Helping To Change Our World

Live life freely and be the best version of yourself. Don’t beat yourself up for minor mistakes but don’t shrug them off either. Use every experience as a lesson learned to fuel your purpose and growth and always keep pushing forward.

As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Antoine Miller, the founder & music director of the nonprofit Sounds of Success, an award-winning community marching band. Not only do all the students learn to play an instrument, which are mostly donated, the program reinforces the importance of education by arranging one-hour of homework assistance before band practice starts. This social impact initiative is also making a difference in the future of these students as being a band member creates a pathway to college through music scholarship opportunities. Winning nearly 20 awards in just 4 years, the nonprofit Sounds of Success Community Marching Band just announced their biggest recognition to date which is being the only community marching band in the US invited to perform at London Band Week, a spectacular global event. In order to bring 100 band members, they have launched a crowdfunding campaign and a raffle with two 2023 cars as the top prizes! Inspiring, passionate and purposeful, Antoine Miller is bringing music to the hearts and minds of his students and the community.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Music was an important outlet for me when I was growing up. By joining the school marching band, I found a belonging that made a big difference in how I felt about myself and how I related to others. I played the tenor drum in middle school, the alto saxophone in high school and in college, I was a member of the FAMU Marching 100 and I enjoyed every performance! Not long after school, I reconnected with my former middle school band director who offered me the position of head band director. Six years later, I founded the nonprofit Sounds of Success Community Band based in Riviera Beach, Florida in Palm Beach County. Knowing how the marching band experience had such an impact on my life, I wanted to share this meaningful journey with others. Our band members are students ages 5 to 23 but most who are under 10 join us as dancers only. Having won many competitions and having scholarships offered to some of the students who have auditioned, we hope to continue for many years giving back to the community through music and sharing how the joys of a marching band can truly make a difference for so many.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

That would be getting the call that we were one of only two bands from the US, and the only community marching band, to be invited to perform at London Band Week in June 2023. It is an honor to have been invited to this annual celebration of marching bands from across the globe who will perform. Right now, we are fundraising so we can bring 100 of our best to perform at this once-in-a-lifetime event and that includes selling $100 raffle tickets with six fantastic prizes including the Grand prize a 2023 BMW and the 2nd prize a 2023 Hyundai!

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting?

It happened when I took the marching band to perform at Florida A&M University for the Homecoming Battle of the Bands. Once we arrived to perform, one of my sousaphone players informed me that the neck to his instrument was missing and I suddenly realized it was due to something I had done. The night before, I took all the sousaphones out of their instrument cases for cleaning but then I totally forgot to put all the parts back. I couldn’t believe it! But it worked out as we were able to borrow a sousaphone from FAMU and the band played beautifully!

Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I knew I had to move swiftly to find a solution and not spend time on blaming myself. I tell all my band members they must look ahead and forge forward because mistakes or unexpected challenges can become new opportunities. Don’t put energy into the blame game. Instead, focus on solutions and redirect your efforts so you are open to new ideas. The old adage “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” has been around for a long time because optimism always plays a big role in life and business.

Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?

We are bringing music education into the lives of youth in a meaningful way. Participating in a marching band gives students a positive pathway to pursue and achieve dreams in the future. The benefits of joining a marching band are limitless, providing young people a way to learn skills and develop traits that will make a difference for them in every phase of their lives. In addition to having a positive way of expressing themselves, marching bands help students improve math skills, build self-esteem and understand team dynamics all while developing a hard work ethic while getting physically fit and discovering a world beyond their local neighborhoods. Just as importantly, learning to play an instrument creates a pathway to attend college since most colleges and universities have music scholarship opportunities and ultimately be employable doing something they love like becoming a music teacher or musician for example.

Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

After one of the band members graduated from high school, his college plans were interrupted by the pandemic. So he joined our community marching band which made him eligible to audition for a music scholarship at Florida Memorial University and he was awarded it! Another inspiring individual was a student with autism. He had always dreamed of playing symbols in a marching band but the competition at his high school prevented him from making the cut every time. He joined us and quickly became a valuable band member. During the two years he was an SOS Warrior, he developed stronger social skills, made many friends, and shared his open heart with us all through his love of dance. His participation had a meaningful impact on his life and the rest of the band.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

  1. Help build awareness in the schools so teachers will encourage more students to participate. We need educators to realize the many ways students joining marching bands can be a positive influence from improving math skills to building self-esteem to getting physically fit to developing team-building skills, and by creating a pathway to college through music scholarship opportunities.
  2. Help us communicate to more families so they know there are little or no costs associated with this program. Not only are most of the instruments donated but we also provide transportation to band practice and one-hour of homework assistance before each practice begins. When the students perform at events outside of the local community, all of those costs are covered as well. We need more support in communicating this across multiple platforms and by important voices in our community.
  3. Help by allocating funding. Local city councils could really help by including funds in the budget. Marching bands are an excellent resource for communities because they fall under so many categories from being a sport because of the marching requirements, music because of the instrument playing, and fitness and wellness because of the breathing, walking and stamina it takes to perform.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

Quite simply, leaders pay it forward. I want every student to enjoy and grow from being in the Sounds of Success. I also want them to know this experience has the potential to impact their future. That is why I have established relationships with many colleges who offer music scholarships to be sure the band members I work with have the opportunity to audition when the time comes.

What are your 5 things I wish someone told me when I first started and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Get educated in business. As a music teacher, artist and arranger, I thought being creative was all I would need to be a success. But when I started my organization, very quickly I discovered how important it was to know about business, entrepreneurship and nonprofit management as well as understand who I would need to hire to support my efforts.
  2. Humble yourself. Even when you’re the one with the plan, it doesn’t mean you will always be the smartest one in the room. Listen to everyone because additional perspectives will open up and expand even the best ideas!
  3. Think before you speak. Having the discipline to take a deep breath and stand-still to consider all options is a valuable skill. Collaboration is vital for nonprofit growth and it takes patience and time to map out strategies and vision.
  4. Value relationships & build partnerships. It really does take a village and that is why strengthening relationships and building partnerships is so important to your organization well being and strategic growth plan.
  5. Live life freely and be the best version of yourself. Don’t beat yourself up for minor mistakes but don’t shrug them off either. Use every experience as a lesson learned to fuel your purpose and growth and always keep pushing forward.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

That would be opening up more hearts and minds to the power of marching bands as a way for students to propel themselves now and for a brighter future.

Can you please give us your favorite Life Lesson Quote?

I have been sharing this quote with my team as it is a true representation of how I feel:

The essence to all matter is soundwaves

Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Before I started the nonprofit, I had a vision for it and pictured it in my mind. This quote was what took me from idea to reality.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

That would be Steve Harvey because his story is so inspirational. Before his success, there was a time he was homeless and slept in his car, but he was determined and found success through hard work and believing in himself.

How can our readers further follow your work online?



Instagram: sos_marchingband

Facebook: SOSThePeoplesChoice


This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

Social Impact Heroes: Why & How Antoine Miller of Sounds of Success Marching Band Is Helping To… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.