Rhodes to achievement
By Abby Brockmann
(Friday, Oct. 2, 2015)
There is a new band teacher in town, and he is on the “Rhodes” to success.
High School Band Teacher Andrew Rhodes started his first year teaching at Silver Lake this school year. Rhodes attended Washburn University for college where he received his Bachelor of Music in Music Education and his Bachelor of Music in Music Performance. While he was there, he also played Saxophone for the band.
Rhodes shared why he chose to go to Washburn University.
“I decided to go to Washburn because of the music faculty, specifically Dr. Craig Treinen. He is the Director of Jazz Studies and Applied Saxophone at Washburn. I remember meeting him and getting to hear him play and that was all I needed to know. From then on I knew that he was who I wanted to learn from and I am grateful that I did. The rest of the amazing faculty and the campus life at Washburn was just a bonus,” he explained.
Treinen wasn’t the only one Rhodes learned from. He shared who inspired him to become a band teacher.
“My previous band directors, Mr. Rob Foster Jr., Mr. Justin Love, and Mr. Dan Freeman inspired me to become a band teacher. These three gentlemen showed me that I could achieve many things with music. They passed their passion for music on to me and supported me every step of the way. They provided and continue to provide me with opportunities to learn and grow as an individual, musician, and a person. My hope is that someday I can do the same thing for my students,” Rhodes shared.
Rhodes described his past experiences playing in high school and college.
“My directors provided me with lots of opportunities to go play with different groups and gain experience. In high school I played with different honor bands, district bands, and jazz bands. I also had opportunities to travel for events that I was performing in. In college it was more of the same. I got the opportunity to play with famous musicians, travel to different states and locations to perform, and start performing solo work also. Also while at Washburn I started playing in a lot more ensembles and some professional jazz bands,” he explained.
Rhodes shared why the saxophone is his favorite instrument to play.
“It was the first instrument I learned to play and continually practice and learn about to this day. I enjoy playing the saxophone because it is used a lot in Jazz and that is my favorite style of music to both listen to and play. I also enjoy learning about the mechanics and different improvements that has been made to the saxophone over time. Most the saxophone is my favorite because it’s awesome,” he shared.
Rhodes explained the best part about teaching high school students.
“My favorite part about teaching high school students is their level of ability. Younger students don’t have nearly the same technical abilities as the older students. With that greater range of technical ability comes the opportunity to play more advanced music and focus on things like tuning and sight-reading instead of correct notes and rhythms,” he said.
The band size at Silver Lake is smaller, and that can cause issues. Rhodes described the toughest part about a smaller band size.
“The toughest part of having a smaller sized band is the issues that arise with instrumentation. Most pieces of music are written with a certain ensemble (marching band, concert band, jazz band, etc.) and a certain size of ensemble in mind. When you are missing those numbers and the different instruments in the band then the music just doesn’t sound the same or work very well. So all the hundreds of pieces that are written for that ensemble aren’t really usable anymore.
“Instead I have to arrange music to fit our instrumentation and get as close as I can to what I want. On a positive note, that means I can customize the music to our band and make it unique to us,” he explained.
Rhodes explained how the band will overcome the small numbers.
“We are considerably smaller than previous years and like I said before, it creates issues with the instrumentation of the band. However, with that being said, this challenge can easily be overcome. The band can still sound as good, if not better than it has in the past, but we have to focus and work hard.
Since we have smaller numbers, it provides more time to work with individuals instead of just sections of the band and this ultimately improves our band’s quality,” he said.
Even though having a smaller sized band can be tough, there can also be a rewarding factor.
“The best part of having a smaller band is that I get to know all of the members better. I get the chance to talk to each and every one of them and get to know more about them. In larger groups there are always the handful of students that are quieter and keep to themselves and the director doesn’t get to know them very well because they can hide. There’s no hiding in this band and it really helps to build a family instead of just a group of students,” Rhodes commented.
Rhodes shared what he is most looking forward to this year.
“The thing I most look forward to is the same thing I look forward to every year. I enjoy watching the band members learn and work together. I look forward to teaching them new skills and concepts and watching them apply those newly learned ideas. I look forward to building relationships with my bands. I look forward to watching them overcome the struggles they will face and being proud of what the accomplished. Mostly, I look forward to watching all of the bands improve as both musicians and people,” he shared.
As for future goals for the band, Rhodes has several.
“The most immediate future goal is to build up the band numbers again. Looking at previous band pictures, the numbers have slowly been going down. Building back those numbers opens up and provides the band with more opportunities to do different things. My hope is to get those numbers back and make this program awesome. Another future goal is for the musicians I have in my bands. While the numbers have gone down, there are still lots of great musicians here in the bands now. Being in band takes a lot of hard work and dedication and I want to show off their work as much as possible and give them as many opportunities to advance and achieve in music,” Rhodes explained.
Along with goals for the entire band, Rhodes also has goals for himself.
“My future goals for myself are pretty simple. Do the best job I can for my students. I know that I am still learning and still figuring things out. My goal for myself is the same as it is for my bands. Do something better. Each day I hope to learn something new and improve myself so I can be more effective for my students and improve our program,” he said.
Although Rhodes has many future goals, his ultimate goal is to recruit new members.
“If anyone is interested or is even tossing around the idea of joining band, come talk to me. I would always love to have more students join up and help grow this program,” Rhodes said.