Scientifically it has been proven that listening to music as well as playing an instrument has multiple health benefits. Not only does it help your memory, enhances coordination, but it also exposes the student to culture and history and improves listening and social skills.
Elementary school students at Mesa Verde and California Avenue have a new band teacher this year, Jeremy Clifton, and with over 70 students at each site this year’s band should be a delight.
Clifton shares his time between the two schools, spending Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday at California Avenue and Thursday and Friday at Mesa Verde with an occasional afternoon visit on Wednesdays. With such a large band, instruments needed to be ordered to accommodate all band members.
“I’m feeling very optimistic about this year and my students’ enthusiasm is infectious,” said Clifton. “This is my third year as a band teacher. I have been directing music groups, teaching private lessons, and giving classes in various capacities starting about age fifteen.”
Prior to accepting the position for Riverbank Unified School District, Clifton was teaching students from Kindergarten to Sixth grade in Ceres where he also taught at multiple sites.
“Being at two sites has some weird things, though,” added Clifton. “There are twice as many names to remember when you’re new. Every school has its own unique culture to discover. You have to be careful not to wear the wrong school’s shirt when getting dressed in the morning ... because that would be awkward. One day this week, I accidentally turned to go to the wrong school and had to turn back.”
When asked what his favorite instrument is, Clifton explained that he gets this question frequently and it is very hard for him to pick just one since they all have their own personality, quirks, talents and limitations.
Although he was not involved with band during his elementary school years his music experience began early in life with a musical family and piano lessons at age seven. He was active in music with the church as a teenager and earned a BA in music at San Diego. After graduation Clifton made ends meet by working as a music director, music teacher, and gigging professionally.
“Besides music, my favorite sub jobs were in classes for Severely Handicapped and Autism and I seriously considered that route,” expressed Clifton. “Being a music teacher was naturally my first choice, but I didn’t think there would be enough of a demand for music teachers for me to have a shot at it, so I was surprised to be presented with the opportunity to become a band teacher.”
Growing into his role as a band teacher, every chance he got he would play an instrument to try to learn each one.
“I’m emerging as a brass, woodwind, and percussion player but wouldn’t consider myself “hirable” for any gigs on any of those instruments yet,” added Clifton. “I played trombone in MoBand this past summer and clarinet the year before.”
When sharing his favorite part about being a band teacher Clifton explained that it is all about positive relationships not only with the students but for them with each other as well as the ability to “nerd out” on music.
“Good education is the key to our future as the human race and I’m excited to be a part of that,” stated Clifton. “I can help other people succeed and watch that growth take place. Research has found that playing music yields enormous benefits in neural development, mental and emotional health, dexterity, focus, work ethic, social cohesion, critical thinking, coping with trauma, stress management, creativity, problem solving, quicker learning, and the list goes on. To me, it’s about more than just music. I get to help young people grow into independently thinking, compassionate, and competent members of society.”