There is a new pied piper in town, gathering interested band students at Mesa Verde Elementary and California Avenue Elementary and taking them on a musical journey. Helping the students gear up for a performance is Riverbank Unified School District music teacher LeeAnn Messer.
She has been with the school district since December and said the elementary band students at both Mesa Verde and California Avenue have been quick learners on the instruments. There are approximately 60 band members from California Avenue and 50 from Mesa Verde. The new band students had the option to select the flute, clarinet, or trumpet.
“It has been really good, actually, at these schools because I think the kids haven’t had music before and it is new so they really enjoy it,” stated Messer. “I am noticing here more than my other school district that the kids are picking up what I am teaching them more and they are just more excited about it.”
Messer began playing the flute and always wanted to teach music. She previously taught general music at a school district in Indiana, where she is from. This is the second school district where she has taught music.
“When you study music education you pick an instrument to be your main instrument and I chose the flute,” added Messer. “I am a flutist although I learned how to play all the instruments that are played in band.”
In the general music classes Messer has several percussion instruments like the xylophone, drums, and recorders.
The elementary band’s first concert will be this Thursday, May 18 at 6 p.m. at Riverbank High School for the Fourth Annual “Night of the Fine Arts” hosted by the Riverbank Fine Arts Department. The concert will include the high school band, Cardozo Middle School band and the elementary band. Each school will play their own songs at the performance and for the finale they will all play together on a number called “Dragon Slayer” by Rob Grice.
To help the students prepare for this concert, Messer enlisted the help of RHS Band Director Joey Aguilar along with a few high school band members.
“The music is rather difficult, the high school came to help my students better prepare for the concert,” explained Messer. “The high school musicians helped my students to have a better idea of what their instrument part should sound like. I think it also got them more excited to stay with band as they get older.”
“I believe that Mrs. Messer and the elementary band program has been a great addition to the Riverbank Unified School District,” added Aguilar. “The high school students enjoyed working with the younger students.
“They see what it is that we as music educators are trying to develop here for the Riverbank Unified School District, which is a well-rounded and developed music department at all the schools.”
With the 2016-17 school year almost over, Messer expressed that she has enjoyed the new band program for RUSD and looks forward to her first full school year next year.
“I love it here,” said Messer. “I never knew I would come to California. I had never heard of Riverbank or Modesto. The kids are wonderful. They are so excited. They make me excited to work with them.”