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The Perennial

Band Leader Will Rees Sparks Creativity in Junior High Band

Abi Wessel

   As the microphone cables clicked, the high-hat pounded and the bass shook through the stage, the Pinewood community got their first look at this year’s junior high band. The band, complete with pianists, drummers, violinists and singers, played their first gig of the year at the Jamboree in October, led by musician and teacher Will Rees.

   Rees started the junior high band six years ago when his first child, senior Bridget Rees, moved from Middle Campus to Upper Campus. Rees wanted to replicate Middle Campus’ music programs, but he found the options lacking.

   “In junior high, there was choir but not really much else, [and] I [thought] I could probably provide a little something kind of like School of Rock,” Rees said.

   Rees’ background in music and past experiences qualify him for leading the band. His bachelor’s degree in music and significant experience as a musician solidify his reputation.

   Rees said that during his time in his own band, he took a leadership role and directed his bandmates, which prepared him for directing the band here at Pinewood.

   Rees’ goal with the junior high band is multi-faceted. He wants to provide a space for students to sing, play and experiment with their instruments, while also helping them gain confidence to play in front of an audience. Rees said his third, subtle goal was to teach music theory to his students.

   With the band’s first gig at the Jamboree, Rees said that playing in front of a receptive audience comparedto the challenges of a tight schedule. Despite the challenges of having a range of experience levels from his musicians, Rees had high praise for the courage shown by the band.

The thing that’s always so incredibly inspiring is that they’re always so brave, and they just get out there and they do it in front of the whole school,” Rees said. “It’s really incredible.”


   While he leads and directs the band, Rees’ favorite part is when students suggest improvisations to the system or songs. Rees said this shows him they have their own ideas, and confirms to him that he has created a safe space for ingenuity. Rees also loves to inspire his students to think differently about music.

   A shining example of what Rees looks for in a band member is Adelynn Wang, a seventh grade pianist who joined because of her desire to learn more music.

   “I want to experiment with more instruments,” Wang said. “Over the summer, I attended a camp that allowed me to play other instruments, and I really liked it.” 

   Wang also admired the musical diversity of the band.

   “I think we have a good variety of instruments, and I like how we do all sorts of songs from different genres,” Wang said.

   Rees enjoys his time coaching the band through the ups and downs of the musical journey, and he hopes to continue fostering a knowledge and passion for music through leading the young musical group.

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