New members of Eastside High School’s Mighty Ram Band will attend a one-day band camp on Thursday. Among them will be students who picked up their instruments for the first time less than a year ago.
Many of these students, members of the school’s first ever beginning band class, had never played an instrument. Others had tried before and given up, or played another, non-marching band instrument like guitar or piano.
Joseph Hughes, EHS’s band director, taught the beginning band class. He said he wanted to teach instruments that would bring more students into “the band family.”
“I told them that everyone was welcome, that their job was to come to class and work as hard as they could, and my job was to teach them the best I could,” Hughes said in a press release.
Sophomore Jordan Lett had no musical background, but had signed up for a guitar class at school. Hughes convinced him to learn the trumpet.
“These people are friendly and cool, and I want to keep learning,” Lett, who is now an incoming member of the marching band, said in a press release. “I want to be part of a team that’s bigger than myself.”
Jaeden Moore, another sophomore, played the guitar last year. This year he learned the trombone and gained the opportunity to play with the marching band at pep rallies and a football game.
“I never thought I would be playing an instrument in the band,” Moore said in a press release. “But I had such a good time, we all laughed and talked, it was really fun.”
The beginning band students also performed at a recent school concert. Hughes said many of the young musicians were anxious about the performance and had to overcome their fear.
“I think that’s one of the most valuable experiences of high school band,” Hughes said in a press release. “Students try something new, something hard, and realize that they can do it. They can apply that lesson to the rest of their lives.”
A beginning band program at the high school level is not typical. Most students in high school bands first learned to play in middle school or took private music lessons. The Eastside program’s success may be the start of a trend in Alachua County, with Santa Fe High School looking at starting a beginning band class next school year.
About half of EHS’s beginning band class will be in the marching band in the coming school year. Some have progressed quickly enough to have already joined the school’s concert band class.
“I think kids are capable of so much, and with quality teaching I think almost any student can achieve their goals,” Hughes said.