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Music In School Enriching Lives
The newly created beginning choir class at Riverbank High School was harmonizing with music teacher, Joey Aguilar. VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS

The month of March has been designated the Music In Our Schools Month by the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) which is an arts education organization that addresses all aspects of music education. This organization raises awareness of the benefits of learning music and the ways music empowers and enriches lives. Riverbank High School’s Music Department, led by music teacher and band director Joey Aguilar, will be participating in the campaign with a joint concert on Tuesday, March 24 at the Waterford High School gym at 6:30 p.m.

The collaboration of the Riverbank band, Waterford High School, Enochs High School, and Gregori High School bands and orchestras will perform together at the High School Music Festival which is open, free to the public. This is one of the many spring events that the music department has organized to entertain the community and showcase the student’s talents.

“Each group will play their own separate repertoire and at the end all bands will combine and play Hosts of Freedom March,” said Aguilar. “The idea of a joint concert came about as a way to expose our students to other band programs that the Waterford band director and I felt our students were missing.”

The idea behind joining other bands from other schools is so that the kids get exposed to other programs to compare ideas and make sure they are on the same track as everyone else, according to Aguilar.

“They (band members) are very excited,” added Aguilar. “So far this year we have already done one joint concert with Waterford and our kids loved it.

“In fact most of our kids here have become friends with the Waterford band kids. So they are looking forward to this concert coming up.”

Currently, the band consists of a flute section, a large saxophone section, low brass which is the baritones, a tuba player, a bass guitar player, the trumpet section and the drum section.

“We are missing quite a few other instruments,” stated Aguilar. “What I really need is a clarinet section which is really unfortunate because I had clarinet players but they have all moved away this year.

“This is the one thing that I am missing that I really wish I had.”

Although they don’t have a clarinet section, Aguilar explained that the band makes up for it because they are a small band and are used to not having all the instruments participating. So he rewrites the parts that they don’t have and gives them to other instruments that they do have so the band can still play them.

Aguilar has had a passion for music since he was young and when the time came for him to join the beginner band, he was the first one to sign up.

This is his second year at RHS but he has been teaching music for the past eight years. In high school Aguilar played in the band, orchestra and was active in Winterguard. His abilities stretch throughout the band where he can play every instrument. Aguilar has spent the past 20-plus years mastering his craft.

“Music, band, choir, colorguard, is tremendously important to have in schools because they (students) will learn a lot of different things that you wouldn’t learn in the other classrooms,” expressed Aguilar. “We learn how to work as a team.”

Aguilar teaches his musical prodigies that no matter how insignificant the part they are playing may seem, each part matters to create the big picture of musical performance.

There is also a bond that the students in the music program will form, explained Aguilar, through the years that they will be performing together.

Students in choir did not select the class but were placed in it at the beginning of the school year, which Aguilar says now the students have really taken to the beginning choir class and really like it. The students have also expressed wanting to return the following year.

The beginning choir class will be performing their second concert on May 14 which will be a Pop music concert in the Quad at RHS at 6 p.m.

Winterguard and Colorguard for the most part is the same class. The difference is that Colorguard is outside on a field like during a football game or part of a parade and Winterguard is indoors and does not have a band accompanying them.

This group has three new instructors and will be performing on Saturday, March 21 at Enochs High School for their third competition of the year in the Regional AA division.

Next year the RHS Music Department plans to continue fundraising because several instruments need to be fixed or replaced.

“Eighty percent of our percussion instruments are damaged or are in really bad shape,” said Aguilar, noting that it’s going to take a lot of money to replace the instruments.

He would like to see more students attend RHS and participate in the band or music department.

“A lot of people want to send their kids off to Enochs which I understand is a bigger school but we have just as great of a program here and we may not be that big but our abilities are just as good as Enochs,” added Aguilar. “This is the third school I have worked in and this is my favorite school that I have worked with. When you are at a bigger school sometimes you are just a number and I even remember my number when I went to Modesto schools.”

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