While growing up on the Grambling State University campus, Conrad Hutchinson III dreamed of one thing.
"As a kid watching my father with his band in his uniform, I'd say, 'That's what I want to be,' " Hutchinson, 64, said of his namesake, a pioneer of the flashy "show" style popular among bands at many predominantly black colleges.
His late father, many band directors say, was a musician's musician: a skilled arranger and showman. The son brought intimate knowledge of his father's work -- a marching style rarely practiced on the West Coast -- to Inglewood High School.
But during more than 25 years at Inglewood, Hutchinson made a personal discovery. For him, the music is important, but it plays second fiddle to the role of teacher. For his father, Conrad Hutchinson Jr., band was all about the music.
As band director at Grambling, in northern Louisiana, for 40 years, the elder Hutchinson was revered by peers and students for his perfectionism, discipline and musicianship.
He has been credited with creating an energetic marching style as well as the "lunge," dance-like darts to the side later made popular by Southern University in Baton Rouge, La.
Under the father, the Mighty Tiger Marching Band played all over the world -- as goodwill ambassadors sent to Liberia by President Nixon in 1971, as halftime entertainment for Super Bowls I and IX, as a reminder of home for troops stationed in South Korea.
The younger Hutchinson grew up on the Grambling campus, watching his father perfect dance routines, high-knee kicks and drum-major kicks and spins.
Born in Mobile, Ala., Hutchinson lived with his family in Kentucky before his father got the job at Grambling in 1952. There, the band generated as much excitement and respect as the sports teams.
During his freshman year of college at Grambling in 1959, Hutchinson joined his father's band. For the next four years, he was treated differently from -- but not better than -- his peers.
Hutchinson recalls waking up one morning and hearing drums, which meant the band was already marching to the stadium. He jumped into his clothes, grabbed his clarinet and ran down to the football field.
He wasn't allowed to march. Instead, his father ordered him to run up and down the bleachers and to report to the band director's office later.
Recalled Hutchinson, "I'm walking in like, 'OK, Dad, I know I messed up.' He said, 'Don't call me Dad. Have a seat. Son, let me have your meal book.' "
The father ripped out some of the meal tickets (scholarship students received meal tickets for the cafeteria) and told his son not to go home to eat, either.
It was a lesson on punctuality that Hutchinson and fellow band members never forgot.
Today, nearly every one of Hutchinson's students at Inglewood, including his own 16-year-old daughter, can repeat the "meal ticket story."
They also know that to earn an A, students must attend all practices and events -- and that tardiness is not tolerated.
They also know that Hutchinson will provide counsel, hunt down scholarship opportunities or maybe provide lunch money and a ride home. The values -- of discipline and accountability -- come straight from his father, who died in 1996.
"My dad, I idolized him," he said. "I'm not the kind of musician my dad was; I'm not consumed by music. I love people. He lived and breathed his music. It's not a put-down to him, but that was the way to be successful."
The son's definition of success is different.
"He's a mentor. Everything with him is music and ethics," said Tracy Kelley, a freshman at Langston University in Oklahoma.
Kelley earned a band scholarship after four years playing under Hutchinson. "If it wasn't for him," he said, "then I wouldn't have this opportunity."
An alto and tenor saxophone player, Kelley said that as a freshman in high school, he wasn't confident in his abilities in the classroom or on the field. But Hutchinson tutored him after school in music and made sure he maintained his grades. The band director also helped Kelley figure out that his interests in computers and graphic design could be a good major.
Hutchinson also enlists the help of other students to get the job done.
Wajma Rahmad was often tapped by Hutchinson to tutor fellow band members struggling in their classes.
"He pushes us to continue our career in music. It's just that some of us are kind of intimidated 'cause we're from an inner-city. In other schools, people get private lessons. We don't," said Rahmad, who will be a freshman at UCLA this fall.
Above all, his students say, Hutchinson's enthusiasm and knowledge of show style rubs off on them.
The 6-foot-2 band director is often seen marching around the field behind Inglewood High in his track pants and black tennis shoes, demonstrating the high-knee kick for his students.
A whistle hangs from his neck, resting on the round belly of the otherwise slim man, but he rarely uses it. Instead, he gets the band's attention by bellowing.
"Hey, band!" he yells.
"Yeah?" the 80-plus students yell back.