Most high school bands are thrilled to win at least one award. The Santa Monica High School’s Samohi Band has won 21 awards this year and with a team of 230 members, new band director Michael Corrigan couldn’t be more musically satisfied for its students.
“Having 230 students is certainly not regular in most high schools. Our quality is extremely high with musicianship because of the training that our students receive from elementary though middle school. It’s a building system that allows us to have those numbers. The Santa Monica music program in total, is just superb,” said Corrigan.
As Corrigan celebrated 40 years in music education, 2009 was his first year as Band Director at the Santa Monica High School. Early on,­­ having begun as a Long Beach State music major, Corrigan worked his way to Music Supervisor for the Capistrano Unified District and later founded the Pacific Youth Wind Ensemble a group that works in conjunction with the Pacific Symphony education program.
“I have always respected and admired Santa Monica’s music education program. It’s great to be working here with such fine music educators,” said Corrigan.
Corrigan applauds the dedication and discipline of this year’s band students. “We play more challenging literature then the regular high school group would do. There is a standard way of grading the difficulty level of a concert band’s repertoire. The concert band music is divided into 6 categories and the 5th and 6th category is usually reserved for college and university level. Our top group is consistently playing that level of music,” said Corrigan.
Though the Santa Monica High School’s music program is distinctly unique Corrigan and the students insist that in the end it’s not about the trophies. “We’re a crowd pleasing group. We have always been that band,” said top wind ensemble student Scott Operman.
“I feel that I have reached my goals for the band students when they finish a performance of any type be it concert, jazz or marching and they are truly rewarded by saying ‘that was our best performance, we really enjoyed that’,” said Corrigan.
“It takes the materialism out of it to achieve the artistic goals that we are trying to attain.”
Taylor Weary, the section leader for the French horn and piccolo player embraced this year’s extraordinary experience, including the glamorous uniforms, that come with being a band member. “We’re learning life skills, time management, discipline basic common sense. It’s really preparing a lot of the people that are in the band and a lot of these people do well in other areas of their life as well,” said Weary.
Corrigan believes that joining the band comes with a goal be it musical or even personal. “Beyond the musical satisfaction there is also a discipline approach in scheduling your time wisely. Probably one of the main challenges with students once they reach high school is how to keep track of everything. It’s great training for their future careers as well as their college experience,” said Corrigan.
As each student has their own goals and dreams Operman’s for the next year is simple. “Not to win the trophies but to play music for the crowds.”
Contact Marissa Bojiuc ­[email protected]