It’s difficult to overstate the impact that the Mercer Island Band Program has on its students. Even now, having reflected for years on how profoundly the program shaped my development as a musician, friend, leader, and global citizen, I struggle to succinctly explain it. You could write a book on everything the band program does right.
On its surface, of course, the band program excels in developing new musicians. The program’s passion for instruction is evident along every step and every level of each student’s musical journey from the first time they pick up an instrument. The dedication of the program’s staff at every stage is why the high school program eventually comprises almost a fifth of the school. Students don’t want to leave. Even in older grades, directors are equally invested in working with students of all skill levels, not just those in the highest ensembles. I didn’t join the Wind Ensemble until my junior year. I played trombone in the morning jazz 2 program for four years straight. No matter what band I played in, I always felt supported, engaged, and challenged. I always had fun. That was only possible thanks to the time and energy that the program’s array of directors invests in every single ensemble. Their effort helps ensure that the Mercer Island Band Program is truly a space for everyone to succeed and enjoy music.
But this cultivation of musicianship is just the beginning of the Mercer Island Band Program’s magic. Directors go the extra mile to get students invested in music. Students learn and work together in ensembles to create amazing performances; their collaboration fosters a powerful sense of community. I fell in love with this incredible group of so many friends united behind a passion for the music they played and the people they played it with. This environment drove me, and countless students like me, to pursue leadership roles and help make a positive impact on a program that has given them so much. I have no doubts that the band program provided me with the most meaningful relationships and leadership of my high school life.
The products of this program are nothing short of incredible. Unshakable community and irreplaceable friendships. Students put on musical performances the caliber of which I have yet to see in college. Student leaders pursue meaningful and incredible initiatives: global service projects that raise tens of thousands of dollars and promote cultural exchange, annual food drives that collect tons of food for local communities, and so much more. The Mercer Island Band Program has a remarkable talent for producing amazing leaders, citizens, and generally good people. All of this is made possible through the guidance, support, and dedication of the program’s staff.
The band program played a crucial role in shaping who I am today. It taught me lessons I use every day and even helped inspire my career path pursuing the field of global public health. I cannot understate the value of continuing its funding at its current level, so that it may continue to inspire its students well into the future.
~ Brandon Hill, Class of 2019