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Playing the New Key… Again

A new band class that could make a big impact on a small school

Julian Simpson

Julian Simpson, Editor in Chief

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Music is an important aspect in life, it can describe people’s background and culture, keep people happy and bring communities together. It’s a part of everyday life and people want hear and learn it from anywhere they can. In schools, it invigorates school pride and rallies students to respect and be proud of their school.

In earlier years, Gunderson had a music class but then the class ended it 2012. After the dismissal of the class there were attempts to revive it the year after, but no candidates were found to take to the place of the last teacher, Mary Alice Hillman who has been the teacher since 2005 for the class. Ever since the class has ended, Gunderson had a club, to try to suffice for the class. The teachers that were in charge of the club, Mr. Geordie Smith who still currently teaches at Gunderson and Mark Helfenberger who left last year. This year the school finally brought back the music class into its curriculum.

Currently lead by Smith, the class has been working towards a goal of playing at sporting events and other events as well, so staff and students could hear real, live music that fits the tempo of the game and makes it exciting.

“Mr. Smith has been doing music his whole life,” said sophomore Mason Romero. “… he wanted people to hear real music not just the music that we listen to. We have gone to football and volleyball games. Soon we will be going basketball games, baseball, softball and soccer games.”

This experience is not just great for the audience but the musician, too. “They been really fun. Last year I went to the games and they were kinda boring sometimes. This year we would play songs during the important plays or moments,” said sophomore Antonio Razo. Razo has been a long time member of the music community of Gunderson,  playing last year in the music club and this year in the class. Antonio was interested in the piano so he decided to play it.

“I don’t know, when I learned that there is all the notes on the piano and you can basically play like every song on the piano, I just thought it was really interesting, that made me focus on the piano.”

Playing instruments, or any extracurricular activity takes a lot of hard work and nothing is given. Music doesn’t just take wanting to do it or skill of playing it, you also have to have a understanding of music. This corresponds to other real world problems and being a good student just makes it easier.

“Students who are dedicated to music are achieving learning outcomes that would not be available without the class. They are also learning to do group work, network, analyze, and overcome challenges. These skills are excellent skills for the real world, as they prepare students to be thoughtful and competent leaders with open minds and strong critical thinking skills,” said Smith.

The class starts off with 40 students and just wants to keep bringing new students who want to join the class. For the future of his program Mr. Smith said, “I want to get a large number of generally proficient musicians who can perform a wide variety of music on a wide range of instruments,” said Smith. “…I’d like my students to be capable at composing and arranging their own pieces. I want my students knowledgeable and competent in all aspects of music making, I tell the students that they are not only musicians, they are musical engineers.”

In the future he also plans to have different bands for different events. Such as a folklorico band for the dancers, theatre band for any plays, a concert or dance band for big events like dances, rallies and holidays, for example Halloween or Christmas. Lastly, a surprise band to play surprise concerts unannounced throughout the school year.

This new class is already jumping to a head start with so many hard working, dedicated, and interesting students, that the future seems very bright if the class keeps working out like it already is.


2 Responses to “Playing the New Key… Again”

  1. Geordie Smith on December 6th, 2017 6:41 pm

    Thank you Julian! What a great profile. I appreciate it!

  2. Karen S. Dawkins on December 7th, 2017 9:17 am

    What a wonderful article! So glad to have this class added to the options for students. To not have music in schools, in my opinion, is criminal. So grateful for Smith and Helfenberger for pushing this forward and thinking about the well being of our students. When kids have a creative outlet (and an opportunity to display their talents) it makes them better students overall. GRIZZLY proud!!!!

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Playing the New Key… Again