SHS Band Students spark inspiration and new tradition


Adam Gruschow

High School Students playing instruments for Wampatuck Students

Jack Nelson, Staff Writer

Squeaks, honks, screeches, and squawks. Contrary to what you might have thought, I’m not describing the sounds animals make moments before death. I’m talking about the noises a parent might hear coming out of their living room when their child plays an instrument for the first time.

Scituate’s 4th graders are given the annual opportunity to join their school’s band program by selecting from an arrangement of musical instruments. For each of them, the start of their young musical career is not pretty, as evidenced by the disturbing sounds that often get parents second-guessing what they got themselves into. As the years of instruction and practice progress, though, this early struggle evolves into beautiful music-making that fuels passion develops a unique skill set, and creates community.

To get these students started on their journey, local music teachers typically tour the elementary schools and introduce the various instruments that are available to students. As you might expect, these demonstrations have a heavy influence on how each 4th grader evaluates their desired instrument: the flute might fascinate one student, while the trumpet has another student hooked. However, this year’s instrument presentations experienced a change that made all the difference.

On September 11, some of Scituate High School’s finest band students stepped in for the first time to give instrument presentations to the aspiring 4th graders. The group consisted of seniors Aurora Avallone (flute), Megan Logan (saxophone), Shannon Logan (clarinet), Emily McKerrow (trombone), Jack Nelson (trumpet), and Annika Sjostedt (trumpet). Sophomores Sophia Derr (flute) and Henry Sherman (saxophone) were also involved. All of these band students are either current or future section leaders on their respective instruments. The trip was put together by local music teachers Suzanne Dasilva, Adam Gruschow, James Thomas, and Gregory Lessard. Private lesson instructor Bonnie Harlow was also present to talk all about the after-school string instrument options: violin, viola, and cello.

Choosing high school band students to lead the presentations was something that had been in the works before the decision was finally made for the traditional presenters to pass on the baton. Dasilva explained, “Doing it this way has been a dream of mine for a while, and we have a great team of teachers that just kind of all came together and they were all for it. I was glad that we were all on board.”

The main reasoning behind such a change had a lot to do with the values high school band students bring to the table that music teachers can not. Dasilva touched on a sense of relatability: “They can see you in themselves and themselves in you. For teachers, we’re like a lifetime away–I don’t think they can picture themselves quite as adults, but teenagers are something they aspire to be.”

Each demonstration began with the basic assembly of the instrument and then transitioned into songs or exercises the 4th graders might learn in their first few weeks of practice. This meant lots of classic nursery rhymes like “Old Macdonald” and “Mary had a Little Lamb.” Students immediately recognized these classics and sang along.

To showcase their own talents and demonstrate where years of experience can take you, the high schoolers also played iconic pop culture tunes. There were spirited sing-alongs to music from Moana (flute duet), SpongeBob SquarePants (clarinet), and even the hip hop hit “Old Town Road” (trombone). The theme from Avengers (trumpet duet) and some jazz improvisation (saxophones) was also played–much to the excitement of the crowd. Dasilva cherished these moments, saying, “The spontaneous singing was heart-melting. I wasn’t expecting that.”

Gruschow loved the curiosity that the occasion sparked: “It’s always good to see them because they’re super, super curious. They love seeing people come from high school. I’ve never seen a 4th grader or elementary school student who isn’t immediately curious about what this person’s about,” he said.

As someone who was involved in the trip, I can personally add that the experience was everything I could have asked for and more. It brought me full circle in my musical career thus far by reintroducing me to my roots as a trumpet player and showing me how far I’ve come in 8 years. All of the smiles and laughter from the 4th graders were heartwarming, and it reminded me why I love being a part of the Scituate music community.

With high schoolers now in the mix, the future for Scituate’s elementary school instrument demonstrations has never been brighter. Gruschow happily confirmed, “We don’t need any more motivation other than just knowing that this was successful already and now that we’ve had it work, we’re going to do it again. We’ll definitely have lots of good, eager high school students ready to do it.” Dasilva emphasized, “I think the success of this pilot program really sold it to all of us.” Not only was this trip a triumph in the eyes of students and teachers alike, but it created a new tradition set to musically inspire Scituate’s youth for generations to come.