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New Trojans music director plans to get marching band back on field

Band is a major part of football. One can’t watch a college game without hearing the band somewhere in the background.

The same with high school football. Most teams are regularly backed up by a pep band.

So where is the Trojans band? Why haven’t we seen them marching at halftime?

Well, the band is under construction, a work in progress.

The Trojans have a new band director, Michael Wineski. He has about 29 students in the marching band, better than when it started over 35 years ago.

According to former Trojans director Robert White, who is now teaching at Rosemary Clarke Middle School, the band had only seven kids when he started in 1987, but it grew.

“By the time I left the high school to teach at the middle school in 2001 we had 55 high school band members,” White said. “I believe the number increased during the 2000’s before the economy crashed. Doug Farr had a pretty good sized band, but I don’t know the number. Then Thomasinis was big. To my knowledge, it has never gone to the one hundred mark.”

Wineski is a highly-skilled musician with a master’s degree in composition. He has limited experience in teaching band, but what he lacks in experience he makes up for in dedication and passion for music.

“My only experience working with bands is working with Palo Verde High School 10 years ago as a paraprofessional,” Wineski said. “I did a lot of choir work so the majority of experience I have is working with choral music. My experience is with choirs but I feel more comfortable working with bands and instrumental music.”

Wineski spent last year working at the Northwest Academy in Amargosa.

“They don’t have much of a music program,” he said. And that explains why he is in Pahrump.

He said what people don’t realize is the similarity between teaching band and choral music.

“I have been around choral music enough to know how to sing correctly,” Wineski said. “I know how to teach the kids proper breathing, and those techniques travel over to the band as far as wind instruments.”

Wineski is a first-year teacher and he described his first weeks of learning his job as daunting. But things are starting to come together slowly.

“I have never had to deal with all the nuts and bolts of scheduling concerts and fundraising and doing the paperwork,” he said. “This is all new to me in that respect. The first couple of weeks had me asking myself what I had gotten myself into.”

He is beginning to see some progress.

“Now four weeks into it and we are starting rehearsals,” Wineski said. “My comfort zone is working with the music and not doing all the paperwork stuff. It’s starting to fall into place a little.”

Now that he has some space to breathe he even has a vision of what the band will sound and look like in the future.

“Here I have to build something up,” he said.

And building it means making the band sound like it should, he said.

“I would like to raise the bar and have our band eventually sound like a college band so that we can do recordings,” the band teacher said. “And getting the sound out there for fundraising. I would like to record them for spring concert and record them in a studio setting too. To say hey, this is what we can do. I want to try them get not to sound like a high school band. If that makes any sense.”

He added with a smile, “Obviously, baby steps.”

As far as how the band looks, that will come. He said he wants a traditional band look with uniforms, but doesn’t think that would fly out here with the heat.

“It’s so hot here and the uniforms are not breathable-friendly,” the conductor said. “For the parade coming up I can’t put them in those uniforms because it is so hot. So we are kind of doing a T-shirt casual thing. Unless I can build on that and get some white vests and make them a little bit jazzier.”

He said uniforms if they can find donors and do some fundraisers for uniforms that are more “heat-friendly”.

He says the marching band should return to the field next year.

“Bands usually have a summer camp where marching is worked on,” he said. “Because I am new, that didn’t happen this year.”

Wineski is confident the numbers will get better.

“This is a three-to-five-year plan and hopefully in three years they don’t sound like a high school band,” he said.

People can expect the band to be playing contemporary pop for the games, but for his concert band and future competitions he is looking at more traditional band sounds and classic rock.

Madison Shoults is a sophomore flute player who is excited to have Wineski as a teacher.

“I am going in the right direction now,” she said. “Mr. Wineski has taught me better rhythms and stuff.”

She wants to get the word out that the band is fun to be in.

“People need to know how fun band is and they need to know it is not boring,” Shoults said. “We just don’t sit in a chair and play scales all the time. We actually get to go do stuff and fundraisers.”

Junior trumpet player Marissa Blackmon shares Shoults’ enthusiasm.

“I am behind and lost a few years, but I am coming back from that,” Blackmon said. “I have learned to warm up, my scales and how to memorize things better. I have learned that you have to practice all the time. It would be good to practice your music an hour at home and looking it over. Mr. Wineski is inspiring me to become a better musician.”

You will be able to see the band march for the first time under Wineski at 9 a.m. on Saturday during the “We are America Parade” during the Fall Festival.

Contact sports editor Vern Hee at vhee@pvtimes.com

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