Hope assistant band director and high school choir director Brandon Ellis believes music should be more than mere notes; it should be a creative outlet… and, fun.
Eliis comes to Hope High School to assist in the Bobcat Band marching program and to redevelop the HHS choir program after three years as grades 6-12 band director and choir director at Robinson High School in the Pulaski County Special School District in Little Rock.
“My expertise is on brass; but, I will be working with the percussion line, as well,” Ellis said. “Of course, we are all in it together.”
That concept is a key to the rebirth of the Hope bands program which HHS Band Director Julie Gladden has stressed, Ellis notes.
“The field marching show has its own parts; but, we will be working on good ensemble, listening skills, and fundamentals,” he said. “We will be focused on a professional presentation.”
A 2010 graduate of Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Ellis comes from a proud instrumental music program with a long tradition. He holds a bachelor of music education degree and specializes in trombone and tuba.
“I try to teach good citizenship and good bandsmanship,” Ellis said. “I want the students to be responsible, and always trying to do better than their best yesterday.”
And, Ellis is a strong believer in musical creativity.
“I want to give the students the skills on the instrument not only to learn it but also to create with it,” he said. “I want them not only to perform in band, but also to pursue their own musical endeavors.”
Consequently, there will be a great deal of emphasis upon sectionals practice and forming leadership from those cores within the instrumental music program.
“We will need to be flexible; we’re going to make it work,” Ellis said. “You plug students in where you can use them and teach them.”
Concert performance will also follow somewhat the same system, as developed by Gladden, Ellis notes.
“You have to focus on the fundamentals in marching season; good technique and things like that, so that, when it comes time to transition, they have the skills,” he said.
Ellis will develop the primary instrumental music program for Yerger Middle School and the beginner band program at Beryl Henry Elementary School.
His wife, Kathryn Rose, the choral music director at YMS, will assist with the middle school instrumental music program.
Ellis is excited about Gladden’s emphasis upon concert season competitive auditions which require students to learn specific scales, develop smoother technique and demonstrate specific musicality skills.
“It hits all of the important musical elements,” he said.
Ellis will apply the same concepts to the choral music program at HHS, he said; building upon fundamental skills, musicality and performance technique. He plans to introduce some classic choral musical literature into the program along with an appreciation for some more modern styles his students may recognize.
Ellis anticipates the HHS choral program producing two choir concerts annually for the public.