Fairfield junior high and high school band members experienced firsthand where playing a musical instrument can lead them when attending college.
Twenty-five students attended the Sept. 21 University of Montana Grizzly football game in Missoula. The students watched the Griz marching band play for the Griz Walk before the game and on the field during halftime. Fairfield pep band members sat with the Griz band during the game, where they quickly learned how to play some of their short music blips played during the contest.
Sarah Carpenter, the new music teacher for grades five and up, is a graduate of UM and a four-year alumnus of the Griz marching band.
“The students spent most of the day with the marching band and cheer team. They went to practice, saw the music facility, ate lunch with the UM students and participated in the Griz Walk,” Carpenter said.
Carpenter said the trip was made possible by working through Carpenter’s former band instructor, who acquired permission from the athletic department for Fairfield students to attend. The UM Athletic Department provided tickets for the game, the Fairfield music department paid for pizza for the group and the Fairfield School District assisted with travel to the game.
Carpenter said the students were in awe of the musicians. “They were impressed by how good they sounded from the first note they heard, how well the band worked together and were having fun,” Carpenter added.
Carpenter explained the band plays “shorts” (songs) during the game, which include just a few notes. With instruments in hand, the Fairfield students sitting in the stands with the Griz musicians quickly learned the combinations of the notes from the willing Griz band members and joined in playing the quick game rally music.
Carpenter said it was also great to see the Griz win the game over Monmouth. “The students all had a blast, even my Bobcat fans,” Carpenter laughed.
The trip has inspired some of the Fairfield pep band members. “Some of the junior high trumpet players can’t quite hit the high notes,” she said. “But since hearing the talent of the Griz band members, they have been practicing and even challenging each other.”
Many of the students were surprised what playing in a college marching band entailed and what they need to achieve in high school to advance to that level.
Carpenter, a native of Great Falls, graduated from C.M. Russell High School. For the past two and half years she has taught pre-kindergarten through 12th grade music at Denton and Geraldine.
She presently has 20 high school students in band, 31 junior high students, 18 sixth graders and 25 fifth graders. There are 15 additional high school students helping with pep band who were unable to take the class due to scheduling conflicts.
Since the beginning of the school year, the new teacher has been able to raise funds to purchase new music stands and is working on updating and purchasing new music as funds allow. She appreciates UM hosting the Fairfield students, the band members making the experience so positive, the chaperones who traveled with the students to Missoula and those donating to the music program.