November 9, 2022
For senior Brendan Breen, the trumpet is an extension of his hand, the notes he plays is an extension of his breath. For him, it’s a lifelong passion.
Not only is he the Drum Major in the Marching band, and top player in the symphonic bands, but Breen has also picked up playing for places outside of school.
“My first gig outside of school was actually because my lesson teacher, Cameron Handle, had a church gig that she couldn’t do, so she asked me to cover for her,” Breen said.
Breen, on numerous occasions, has played trumpet at churches or other events outside of school such as the Carolina Park Graduation Service or even a Porter Gout military Honor service.
“ A lot of the time places actually ask the band directors, for a high school trumpet player, and since I’m first, first chair, they ask me first. Other than that, sometimes people will ask people in their church if they know a trumpet player and I often get referred to. Or, my lesson teacher will give me gigs,” Breen said.
To prepare for these events, Breen normally has to attend rehearsal earlier in the week or prior to the service.
“There’s usually a rehearsal before, it could be the morning, if it’s a church gig, it could be the morning of, or like the Saturday before the rehearsals are really short, because church music isn’t necessarily hard to play, it’s just hard to find people to play,” Breen said.
“So it’s usually about like an hour rehearsal. You just run through what the service is gonna look like and then you come back the next day ready to go. Not much preparation.”
Even with the rehearsals, if Breen has the chance he’ll try to read through the music beforehand.
“I just like to make sure I’ve looked through it before. There have been gigs where I didn’t get the music until I sat down. Sometimes they give it to you there and you have like 15 minutes before the church service to learn it,” Breen said.
“ One time I got the music literally a minute before the service started I just had to sight read it. But because church music isn’t that hard, I don’t really have an issue with that. I like performing, so usually it puts me in a good mood anyway.”
One of the band directors, Lanie Radecke, thinks it’s an important part of a player’s growth to play in outside school locations.”
“It’s very safe when you are[playing] at school but then when you play outside of school, it’s just you and Your the soloist, or people are listening to you or expecting a certain sound, .. so it can be a major confidence builder and it’s also nice to share your talents outside of what we do here at Wando. It’s a huge deal and it just builds you as a musician and as a person,” Radecke said.
Breen also runs the Music Mentor program through the band, the program focuses on helping less experienced students.
“Music Mentors is a program that sends high school musicians to the middle schools to volunteer and teach the middle schools how to play their instruments better. It gives them one-on-one teaching experiences, so they get a lot more in depth critique and expertise,” Breen said.
Radecke sees the program as not only a way to improve musicianship, but also relationships.
“Music Mentors is really huge, it recruits for the future. It also builds relationships with current students and future students. When you’re able to do that,you’re not only teaching them about your instrument but you are teaching them about what the Wando Band is about. You’re teaching them about the type of person that we would want them to be. It’s a big deal for us and it’s a great opportunity for us to connect with the middle schools,” Radecke said.
The program existed in the past and was run by former students, Breen took over the program and now runs it all by himself.
“By taking over the program, I communicate with the middle school directors on when they need people to come to the middle schools. I recruit members to volunteer to go to the middle schools,and I just make sure the whole entire program’s running smoothly, if there’s any scheduling conflicts or anything like that,” Breen said.
“Brendan does a great job…he’s done a great job making sure that program is done well and that it’s organized and professionally run,” Radecke said
Breen enjoys seeing his experienced love for music mirrored on a younger player and seeing how it causes them to grow.
“It’s really, really impactful and enjoyable when someone you are teaching hasn’t been able to grasp a concept or play a certain rhythm or something, but you’re one on one experience with them really helps them,” Breen said.
“You can tell when the one-on -one teaching experience actually really changes how they play their instrument, and it’s been very helpful to them. You can see when it’s impactful.”
Through Breens involvement with the band and love for music, Radecke has seen great growth in him, not only as a player but as a person.
“Brendan’s always been talented, that is not a question, but I think the biggest growth has been in leadership and confidence,” Radecke said.
“As drum major, he’s had the opportunity to grow as a person and a leader again, now not as a section leader, but as a leader for everyone. He’s someone that people enjoy being around and enjoy talking to and I feel people are comfortable around him and they have a ton of respect for him as a person and as a musician.”