Why are you passionate about teaching band?
My philosophy is that it’s about more than just notes on a page, but there are so many connections you can make with music. I teach students that if we play how the composer intended, with the ability God blessed us with, the audience will hopefully see that too, and we are all connected together along with God. After the concerts, people come up to us gushing because they appreciated it so much or have tears in their eyes because a piece touched them. Students realize the music they play is more than just an extracurricular. They are actually connecting people to emotions in such a positive way.
Why have you stayed with LCL since the beginning?
I really enjoy the job! Oddly enough, I did not want to teach high school kids, but I love them now, they are so much fun! I had been teaching the elementary band program for a couple of years and at the end-of-year interview, I was asked to help start a band program at the new high school that was opening. It’s been a slow process, over 21 years of building the band program, but really cool to see it grow. And LCL has been very special since the beginning. This place has been all about caring for kids and cultivating relationships so students understand that you’re there for them so they can grow in their love for themselves, those around them, and especially their Lord.
How did you build the band program from scratch?
We started with 6 kids in band, and we’ve been blessed all along where God has really taken care of making sure the instrumentation works. When you have so few students, if you don’t have the right instruments, it’s hard to put something together. I focused on using pieces that worked, because when students see success in things, they want to be involved in that. So I’m always trying to make sure they have those little successes along the way. Even though we started with playing middle school music, it was performed really well, so every time we kept pushing it to the next level. It was only about 2017 or 2018 where I realized we were able to pull of actual high school music and play it well. It felt like we arrived. We keep taking steps forward. Each year I get to watch the kids go from not really knowing what they’re doing, to having a deep respect and pride for their music. We are giving students a place where they feel like they belong and they want to be involved with. Then they tell that to other kids too. I have a new student joining in the spring semester who played band in grade school and thought she would stop. Her friend told her how great it was and now she wants to be involved too.
Do you have a favorite piece your students perform?
The piece that has the most meaning to me and I love sharing with my students is “Who Puts His Trust In God Most Just” by J.S. Bach, arranged by James Croft. I was introduced to this piece in college, and the director does it every year. Since 2018, I have also included it in our performances every spring concert. Two reasons I love this piece is because it stretches our musicians by asking them to sing in four-part harmony. It can be challenging to get instrumentalists to sing instead of play. The words to this piece are about putting your trust in God and having a sure foundation. So the second reason I love using this piece is that it’s like memory work. Singing it for four years makes it locked in their brains. They can have that in their back pocket so when they leave here, they remember the words about fixing their eyes on Him. So this piece both helps them grow as a musician and gives them the assurance of God in their mind when they need it.