One of the first things a freshman band student learns is of the storied tradition and strong reputation Charlotte High School bands have earned over the course of a 90-year history. It’s with that understanding Charlotte High School band members continue to add to that tradition.
“We have a real understanding of the people that came before us,” said CHS senior Kirstin Anderson, who plays the French horn in the symphony band. “We understand the tradition we are upholding.”
It’s that tradition that drew the CHS Symphony Band to the WKAR television studios in East Lansing last spring to be featured in a new television series — Forte — which premiered this fall. Charlotte’s Symphony Band, under the direction of Jerry Rose, will be featured in an episode of Forte on Saturday, Oct. 11 at 5:30 p.m. on WKAR.
“When you think of bands in this area with a really strong tradition, Charlotte comes to mind,” said Rose, who has guided the CHS band program and its 140 students the past four years. “I think part of the appeal for (WKAR) is that they were looking for bands that provided and angle. Charlotte and its tradition provided that angle. Of course, they were also looking for a band that would provide sufficient quality as well.”
Charlotte bands have built their reputation on quality musicianship, which is part of what each band member strives for throughout the course of the school year.
“Creation of great art is always one of our goals,” Rose said. “We are working towards great artistry.”
Artistry is crafted throughout a student’s four years in the band program.
“As you progress through the band, you work on tone development, purification and technique,” said junior Sam Hazel. “When you start out there is so much ground to cover, but by the time you are an upperclassmen, you’re going full gear.”
Rose said upperclassmen in the program who have mastered their skills are often asked to step into the role of a student teacher, guiding the underclassmen.
“What I think many people don’t realize is that in many ways we are a team,” Anderson said. “You have to make sure your personal skills are on par so you can be a contributor and make sure we can all be the best we can be.”
Jonah Wojnar, the lone freshman to perform in the CHS Symphony band last fall, said he loved the challenge, though he was, “scared out of my mind.”
“It was an amazing experience for me,” Wojnar said. “But, I really enjoyed it and we did a really nice job in the end.”
Rose said the success of the Charlotte band program can also be attributed to the unquestioned support from the community and the CPS administration.
“The band program is a huge piece of who we are,” said Charlotte High School principal Bill Barnes. “We talk a lot about Oriole Pride and the band is certainly a key component of that pride.”
You can get an inside look at the Charlotte High School Symphony Band and hear them perform on WKAR, local channel 23, at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 11.