Moffat County band program more than just music
Bolton: Music unifies, enhances ways of thinking for students
April 29, 2016
Teamwork is crucial on the football field and the basketball court, but there's another group present during those games for which working together is essential.
The members of the Moffat County High SchoolMoffat County High School band program have a love for music, but there are limitless possibilities involved in learning to master a masterpiece and it requires a large gathering of people to work in harmony. band program have a love for music, but there are limitless possibilities involved in learning to master a masterpiece and it requires a large gathering of people to work in harmony.
Moffat County High School band program have a love for music, but there are limitless possibilities involved in learning to master a masterpiece and it requires a large gathering of people to work in harmony.
"This is one of the few places in the classroom where you can authentically use group work," instructor John Bolton said. "The nature of music is bringing people together, being collaborative, working technical things in an emotional way."
During a typical day in the band room, there are both expected elements — such as loud blasts from the brass section or a crash from the cymbals — and unexpected, like personal anecdotes from the director that sometimes get students giggling so much they need a minute to recover.
Stories and jokes circle back around to the task at hand, though, the goal of which is to help musicians sound a little better by the end of the class session than when they entered.
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Proficiency is one thing, Bolton said, and most students need little help in playing at this point, many already boasting years of experience. It's conveying the emotional subtext of selections that shows how well the content of the sheet music is understood.
When everyone is doing their job and tuned in just right, it's like being transported through time and space, the instructor said.
"I can play something that's 50 years old, and it's right there, brand-new," Bolton said.
The process of learning music of any kind is more than just notes on a page and the sounds that come from it, Bolton added — it's developing abstract thinking for a different sort of language, it's comprehending structure and architecture of what a composer intended, it's going on a journey that's as enlightening as any piece of literature.
Music can even be seen as a mathematical equation while it's being played, said MCHS senior Wes Atkin.
"Music strongly correlates with math," he said. "There's a whole note or a half note, and you have to subdivide it."
Atkin is a trumpeter and, along with Bekah Bird, a drum major who has conducted his classmates. He said his interest in things like choir and drama has flowed from band, and he intends to keep going with it.
"To me it feels like a way for people to be able to express themselves in a way they wouldn't be able," he said.
In addition to performances across the state such as Jazz Fest in Greeley earlier this month, the Moffat County band regularly provides tunes for sporting events, graduation ceremonies and the occasional local parade. Their end-of-year concert takes place May 10, with the Craig Middle SchoolCraig Middle School performance May 19. performance May 19.
Craig Middle School performance May 19.
The final concert of the school calendar isn't one Bolton likes to identify as a culminative display of the year's education but one where musicians can shine both individually and as a group.
"I'm looking at our spring concert as a great time," he said. "We have worked hard, gone to festivals. I want to walk off that stage grinning from ear to ear, that's my goal. If I can do that, I think it will mean we've accomplished our goals this year."