Start of Something New: Students new to music learn how to play instruments in high school


Chloe Sun

FOR THE BAND: Senior Katy Carson plays the baritone during marching band rehearsal. She said she was motivated to learn to play the instrument after joining the band.

Riley Hamilton

On Oct. 25, Katy Carson, baritone player and senior, will perform at Bands of America Super Regional competition with the marching band. She is not the only baritone player in marching band, but she is unique because the first time she picked up a baritone, it was in high school.

Now a senior, Carson is in marching band for her fourth year. Compared to most of the band and orchestra students who started taking the beginning classes in middle school, she learned how to play when she entered high school. The opportunities provided by the CHS performing arts department allowed her to learn how to play a whole new instrument.

In middle school, Carson played the string bass for her school’s orchestra. Her older brother, who played the trumpet in the school’s marching band, was a big influence in pushing Carson to join band. When she entered high school, the band needed a replacement—a new member for half the semester—so she decided to join.

“Right away, I just fell in love with (marching band),” Carson said. “I loved the people and everything about it so I wanted to do it again.”

She joined the private lesson program the band provides, and she learned how to play the baritone. She continued in marching band her sophomore year and the following high school years ahead.

Chloe Sun
Sophomore Ore Adeola practices the piano during her piano and electronic keyboard class. Currently, CHS offers beginning, intermediate and advanced courses open to all grade levels for piano and electronic keyboard.

Andy Cook, low brass teacher and one of the band directors, was a big influence on Carson’s marching band experience.

“During practice he would pull me aside and give me advice,” Carson said. “He was a very big help.”

Similarly, sophomore Ore Adeola began playing the piano her freshman year.

“I always had wanted to play piano but I never really had enough resources. When I found out there was a class at (CHS) that teaches piano, I was very excited,” Adeola said. “Every time I was frustrated or couldn’t understand anything (piano course teacher Jilaine Jarvis) would calm me down and tell me I was going to learn it eventually,” Adeola said.

Teachers like Cook and Jarvis help other music-loving students like Carson and Adeola to allow more musical opportunities in their lives. Jarvis teaches piano and keyboard for all of the piano classes in the building. For the past four years, she has taught the beginning piano class, the intermediate advanced piano class and two music theory classes.

Jarvis said, “I love teaching kids. It doesn’t matter what class—it’s having the job of giving students these musical experiences that will last a lifetime.”

According to Jarvis, most of the performing arts teachers use a method called recruiting, where they travel to the Carmel middle schools and promote the idea of joining performing arts programs. However, Jarvis said the piano classes specifically do not recruit students because all three piano courses offered in the program of studies is full with about 25 pianists in each room.

“A lot of it is word of mouth,” Jarvis said. “There are many pianists who aren’t in band or orchestra,

Natalie Khamis

so they have the opportunity to come here, have a different experience and have a chance to do this for themselves. Some students who are still musically enlightened don’t have a place to connect or plug in, and I think this gives them a way to be very connected to the performing arts department.”

The large performing arts groups like choir, band and orchestra provide a different experience for other musical students like those in smaller piano classes for example.

However, Carson said her time in marching band has impacted her high school experience.

Carson said, “A lot of the friendships you make in performing arts, especially in marching band, are really, really important. The people I’ve met in band are my best friends, and the band really becomes your family.”

Jarvis explains that different instruments—like the piano, flute, violin, cello, woodwinds etc—all have their own characteristics and capabilities. Students wanting to learn music in high school have many options to choose from, and teachers, families and friends are a big influence on many of the students’ decisions.

“Music itself is very therapeutic,” Carson said. “I’ve said it many times but I’ll say it again, music helps with literally everything.”