By Brandon Martin
Martinsville High School is currently inviting students to pick up an instrument and join one of their many award-winning music programs.
Band Director Brian Joyce said classes are available to all high school students who wish to join either Band 9, Band 10, Jazz Band, Marching Band or Concert Band.
While Band 9 and Band 10 are exclusively for ninth and tenth graders, Joyce said marching band and concert band are mostly geared for upperclassmen.
“New students can join these classes without the worry of falling behind,” he said. “Instruction is geared to help them ‘catch up’ to students with 4-5 years of band experience.”
Beginner students are welcome to join any of the classes except Jazz Band, Joyce said, adding that auditions are required to obtain those spots.
“The Jazz Band class performs the most outside of school for community events,” Joyce said. “Being involved in the band can lead to opportunities in college such as performing in one of the college bands or even earning music scholarships. Many people don’t realize that college students don’t have to be music majors to receive music scholarships. All they have to do is perform in the college bands.”
According to the band’s website, the band program consistently involves more than 20 percent of the school population.
“New students will perform along with the more experienced students at all of the school and community performances,” Joyce said. “That includes our winter and spring concerts, parades and community performances as well as our spring performance trips.”
In the past, the band has received “superior ratings” in Concert and Jazz festivals at Universal Studios-Orlando in 2006; Walt Disney World in 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016; Atlanta in 2009, 2013, and 2018; Toronto in 2002; Virginia Beach in 2011; Pigeon Forge in 2017; and Myrtle Beach in 2005.
Additionally, the marching and jazz bands have performed the Star-Spangled Banner on national televised broadcast for FOX, FS1, NBC and ESPN. It also performed in the Governor’s Inaugural Parade for Former Gov. Tim Kaine in 2006 and Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe in 2014.
The school received the Grammy Museum Foundation GRAMMY Signature School Community Award in 2017 for outstanding efforts in high school music education.
While the spotlight can be daunting, Joyce said individualized instruction helps prepare students for the task.
“Students who are new to the band will receive individual instruction that is specific to each students’ needs,” he said. “The instruction will be included in the traditional band class setting with other members of their grade level.”
Even with the school’s virtual learning environment, Joyce has found ways to still provide that one-on-one instruction.
“With our current virtual learning instruction, new students meet during their regular class zoom times and they zoom with me for private lessons 1-2 days each week for 30 minutes,” he added.
Some instruments can come with a hefty price tag, but Joyce said financial hardship should not discourage interested students from applying.
“Students are encouraged to get their own instrument. If a student can’t purchase an instrument due to their family’s financial situation, I try my best to provide one for them,” he said. “I do have instruments that I can loan out for those who might need one.”
Joyce said involvement in the band comes with a lot more than a fun jam session with friends.
According to data from the band’s website, 70 percent of admissions officers from institutions of higher learning say high school credit and achievement in the arts is a significant consideration for admissions. Additionally, the College Entrance Examination Board found that high school students involved in public school music programs scored 107 points higher on average for the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT).
“I feel strongly that all students should be involved in a music class,” Joyce said. “Music education provides students a place to belong and gives them the skills that they need to be successful in life.”
Interested parents or students can call Joyce at (276) 403-5776 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the MHS band program, visit http://thebulldogband.com/.