PCHS band concert and farewell to seniors
Dunmore, WV – The Pocahontas County High School Band held its final concert of the school year at PCHS on Tuesday night. Band director Ryan Ullman bid an emotional farewell to three senior band members – Morgan Langston, Erica Rebinski and Samantha Hefner.
Rebinski, who plays alto saxophone, says band has meant everything to her in high school.
“Actually, pretty much everything, because I love music and it’s great to have a place where I can let out everything and be able to play and talk to someone who will listen,” she said. “It’s a wonderful place to be. It lets you express yourself. It lets you enjoy more in life than just studying. It lets you just be able to express yourself anyway you want. It’s just a great thing.”
Rebinski will study applied music arts at Alderson-Broaddus College in the fall. Ullman says Rebinski shouldn’t mothball her saxophone.
“She’s definitely a very skilled saxophone player and I would like to think that she could go to a university and be a saxophone major, if she wanted,” he said. “She’s going to Alderson-Broaddus as a vocalist, but I’ve talked to her about keeping on that saxophone because I think she has a real opportunity on that, as well.”
Langston, a drummer, says performing in band helps build confidence.
“Well, in all honesty, it gives me a chance to get up in front of everybody and kind of show the skills – show that we actually have some talent here in Pocahontas County,” he said.
Langston will begin active duty in the Army following graduation. Ullman says the self-discipline Langston learned in band will serve him well in the Army.
“He’s definitely been a good leader for me,” he said. “He’s going in the Army. He’s serving our country. I don’t know what job requires more self-discipline than that.”
Hefner, captain of the color guard, says the group is dedicated, but lazy.
“You’ll never find a more dedicated, yet lazy, group in the entire band,” she said. “We are the laziest things ever, but we are the only ones who will pull practices until 9 o’clock at night, with no teacher around, outside in the cold.”
“It’s freedom,” Hefner continued. “It’s the one thing that you get to go and try what you want and you don’t have a teacher with a huge whiteboard in front of you, telling you to multiply each side by two.”
Ullman disagrees that the color guard was lazy.
“Sam Hefner was my guard captain this year,” he said. “She led our guard to first place, every competition. We’re starting to be that band that other people look at us and get mad, because we’re not supposed to win. We’re not supposed to have the best stuff. We’re Pocahontas County – out in the middle of nowhere.”
“Sam came back and she worked really hard and she pushed everybody else around her to do well.”
The director says the band is a close-knit group.
“These are kids that I’ve had for the past four years and, especially when I’ve had them in band and jazz band, so you kind of grow that relationship,” he said. “It’s not really a parent relationship because I’m not really that much older than them. I’m only nine or 10 years older than some of them. You’re out in the hot sun for four years at band camp for a week. You suffer together. You have good times together. It’s like everything that a family does and it’s hard not to view it as a family.”
Ullman stresses the importance of music education.
“I can’t think of a more positive outlet for teenage hormones than music,” he said. “Not necessarily just music. Art, theater, even sports for some. You know, something that’s positive, that you’re working as a unit and working toward a goal.”
“Music is that thing that brings some of these kids to school and gives them a place to be – a place to belong,” he added. “Some of them don’t belong in math. They don’t belong in science. That’s not where they fit. But music is a place where a lot of them do fit.”