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Music makes people better
The 2014-15 Manteca High marching band. - photo by Photo Contributed

I teach all of the band and guitar classes at Manteca High, and I have also taught music theory and piano here in the past. This is my 13th year teaching, and my 10th at Manteca High School. Prior to coming here I taught elementary music in MUSD and also in Galt.

In addition to teaching, I also serve as Vice President of Band for the San Joaquin Music Educators’ Association, where my main job is organizing our all-county honor band in January.

One of the things that is most exciting about this school year is that before school started I was able to meet with several of my student leaders and draft a new mission statement for the band program.

Everything we do is guided by these student-generated principles, which are:

Music is a serious and rigorous academic subject which we provide students opportunities for study through participation in standards-based instruction.

Through musical preparation and performance students are provided opportunities to develop the skills and behaviors (including teamwork, problem solving, critical-thinking, ability to work individually, cooperation with diverse peoples, time management, and dedication) which lead to success in music, in school, and in life.

We strive to foster positive social growth in students’ lives through band activities.

We encourage and promote music in the culture of the school and the community.

This school year is an interesting one for us since it is our first year on block schedule.

With the band classes this means that not all of our students are ever together at one time, and not all of them are practicing their instruments year-round.

To try to make the best of this, I am focusing a lot in class on individual musicianship, having students work in chamber ensembles (small groups) a lot, we’re learning a lot more music, and I’m assessing their knowledge more formally and more often.

We are still doing a lot of the “fun” things we have done traditionally too, including playing at football games and rallies, performing concerts, and doing our biannual trip to Disneyland to perform in the park.

While there we will participate in the Disney Magic Music Days workshop, where we get to record Disney music on a professional soundstage and have it synced up with clips from their movies.

One of the things I am particularly looking forward to this fall is our final field show performance in November will be a Salute to Veterans where we recognize those who have served our country. I think that is going to be a nice way to end our marching band season.

Music participation is one of those experiences that changes people for the better.

We have former students playing in bands at Fresno State, Cal, UOP, BYU, and several other places, as well as working as professional musicians, music teachers, music therapists, and music composers.

But even better than that, MHS alumni are out using the lessons of team-work, critical thinking, and respect they learned in band to make the world a better place every day.

I consider myself very lucky to play a small part of that!