TUBA CITY -- Tuba City District's former music program was recently given new life in January 2002 by Morris Nesmith, music teacher at Tuba City Junior High School.
Nesmith, band teacher at TC District is a close relative of pop music notable, Michael Nesmith who achieved fame in the early 70's in a teen based foursome group, "The Monkees," who also had their own television sitcom of the same name, so musical talent and discipline runs in his family.
Nesmith has since built a new music program at Tuba City District that has drawn the interest of both the Native and non-native students who attend public school in Tuba City to play in both a concert and marching band setting.
Nesmith said one of his first tasks when he got to the reservation area was to assess the condition of the instruments that were available for student use and also to get an idea of how much musical knowledge and exposure the students already had.
He asked the then current advanced band to play their B flat concert scale and found out that no one even knew what he was talking about.
But that has all changed, and now the student musicians are beginning to memorize not just the entire scale but also the arpeggio and ascending, descending thirds as well.
By the middle of this past year's third quarter, the beginning band group is also playing the chromatic scale.
In the past year, the current TC District Advanced Band had the opportunity to travel to California to participate in a music festival and returned home with a first ever win of a bronze plaque.
Individual student musician Roman Begay was awarded a plaque for "Most Outstanding Musician" which was only one of two student yearly awards given.
This year, TC District's Advance Band attended a music festival in Flagstaff, and were able to perform much more difficult music pieces that would have been impossible to play even two years ago.
The largest section of instruments currently at Tuba City District is the Flute section, which has two boys and eight girls. First Chair Flute is a sixth grade student.
Parents of the concert and marching band students are starting to organize and fund raise to get their students to the California Music Festival this year, with Tuba City District Junior High being the only reservation school represented there.
The new music program has been so successful, that this year, Nesmith has been able to add violin and guitar to the curriculum. The violin class is very small but already halfway through its first year of course work.
Nesmith hopes to have the students ready enough to join the Advance Band for graduation exercise in June, this year at Tuba City District.
Nesmith says he must next work on getting new instruments for his students because some of the instruments that the students are working with now are in such poor condition it affects the skill and talent of these young hopefuls to work twice as hard to get a good tone and sound from damaged and older musical tools that have not been maintained.
The students that are in Nesmith's Advanced Program at Tuba City High School are:
A Spring Concert for the Tuba City District Advance Band will be public and offered on May 4th at 7 pm, Daylight Savings Time at the Tuba City Junior High Gym-Cafeteria building, free to the public.
For more information about the concert or the program, call the Tuba City Junior High School at 928-283-1058 or the Tuba City District Office of Public Relations at 928-283-1072.