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Music of the Heart

Like walking up to the edge of a cliff and deciding whether or not to jump, the tension builds. Heart pounding through her head all the way into her feet, the musician takes a deep breath, remembering what she was taught. Sitting down, nerves continue to build as she tries to calm her mind and just do what she knows. Finally, she takes the jump and starts. Soon enough the crowd melts away and all that’s left is the musician, the instrument and the fact she is getting to spread what she loves in each sitting.

“At first it was because it was challenging to play,” said Heather Mensch, music instructor. “Then as I began performing more throughout high school, it was because of the adrenaline rush you get when you perform well.”

Just like stepping out of an airplane at a couple of thousand feet, that same rush comes over a musician when he or she steps on stage in front of an audience to perform.

Along with the adrenaline comes the intense joy of being able to master a piece of music that most would never consider being able to play. With a feeling so strong comes a desire to help others achieve that same place and feeling.

“I love it more now because I get to teach students how to fall in love with music,” Mensch said. “That’s what revitalizes me every year to come back to teaching and give it my all.”

Through this drive and through the music department each of these instructors strive for the best out of their students.

“My ultimate goal is for students to be better people when they are through with my program,” Thomas Mensch, director of bands, said.

“That’s one of the things band offers to people is a way to be more positive in interpersonal relationships,” he said.

This is a common theme in the music department.

“A desire of mine is to instill leadership in these kids, so that when they walk out of that room they are leaders among their peers,” instructor Angela Smith said.

The goal of all music instructors is for their students to grow and learn not only in music but also in the ways they interact both inside and outside of the classroom.

Each person comes to love music in his or her own specific way.

“I came into the year being really, really shy. Now you cannot shut me up,” said Norman Jones a freshman Harmony and Understanding student.

“It’s a blast. It boosts your confidence and helps your voice,” said sophomore Harmony and Understanding student Allyson Hicks.

“I got an electric guitar when I was 20, and I dropped out of school for a while and practiced like eight hours a day,” said Tony Korkmas, a guitar player in jazz ensemble.

People like jazz guitarists Pat Metheny and jazz alto saxophonists Paul Desmond influenced the way that he perceives and projects music. Dedication is what really lets a person master their craft.

Others like Dr. Mensch, whose love is trombone, listen to all kinds of music from classic rock to country to classical. Each of these influences a musician in specific ways.

But just because someone is an instructor does not mean he is finished performing. Dr. Mensch loves playing in the big band but also subs for the Shreveport Symphony when he has the opportunity. He is also working on a solo recital.

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