Helena Magazine

School Q&A: Brent Traylor, assistant director of bands for Helena High School

Published 2:55 pm Tuesday, March 5, 2024

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Brent Traylor, assistant director of bands for Helena High School, talks the Helena High School band and upcoming events.


Could you tell us a bit about your background in band and how long you have been with Helena?

 My band background began in 7th grade when I was at Opelika Middle School. However, my music background extends beyond that as I participated in church choir growing up and began piano in 4th grade. As I progressed through my high school career I began gaining more and more interest in music and band in general. I was involved in every music ensemble that we had to offer from our premier concert performance ensemble to show choir band and pit orchestra. In all I was in seven different ensembles my senior year of high school. I went on to attend Auburn University were I pursued and earned a degree in music education. During my college career I performed in many a variety of different ensembles from marching and concert ensembles to orchestra and chamber music ensembles. From there I went on to accept a job at Fayette County High School and after three successful years there I accepted the position here at Helena High School where I am currently in my 5th year.


Can you tell us about the band’s Winter concert? What will be the theme and focus of the concert and how are the students preparing for their upcoming performance?

 Coming up we have our Winter Concert which we use a multipurpose event. Our students put on the concert for the family and peers but we also invite qualified adjudicators in to listen to the ensembles and provide feedback about their performance that we then take and use for the next few class rehearsals as we continue to prepare for our State Music Performance Assessment. The students receive this music at the beginning of the second semester and work for approximately 2 months preparing for the concert and assessment. This music is picked to challenge the students but ultimately be successful at performing at a high level after rehearsing. Rehearsals for this have a variety of views depending on when you step in the bandroom. You may step in and see a full ensemble rehearsing and you may step in and see the band divided out into different areas to work on tough passages or playing techniques on their specific instrument.


Looking at the State Music Performance Assessment taking place on March 5th, how do you feel the band stands going into the event?

 Looking ahead to our music performance assessment we believe the ensembles are in a great position to have great performances and receive great scores. Their preparation is really starting to pay off as the repertoire is starting to really come to fruition. Our ultimate goal is to be better when we walk out of the band room than when we walked in. Something unique about this assessment is there is no right or wrong interpretation. It’s not like any other core assessment where there is a specific answer. Because of this there are three different judges assessing the band and their scores are averaged together to try to achieve the most accurate representation of what level the band is performing.


What can you tell us about the band’s upcoming Spring Trip to Tampa in March? What events will the band participate in during the trip? Is this an annual trip? 

 The spring trip to Tamp is an annual trip the band takes each year. The destination of this trip changes each year and we use this trip as a multipurpose tool. First it allows our students to get out and represent Helena on a high level. This also serves as an opportunity for students to get different experiences that they might not otherwise get to have for various reasons. During the trip the band will perform in a parade in Busch Gardens Tampa. Performances like this get the band exposure and open up opportunities for invitations to perform in nationally televised events.


In your words, how would you describe this year’s band in terms of the work they have put into their performance and skills? Have you noticed growth and development throughout the year among the students?

 Day one of each year is a new band. You have upperclassmen stepping up into leadership roles for the first time. You have rising 9th graders who are still young musicians and getting their first time playing while moving. This year’s group has definitely worked hard toward growing musically and in their individual character and it is most definitely growing. Student’s have stepped up to the plate several times this year when we put challenging music in front of them and they have excelled every time.


What is your reaction to seeing students from the Helena High School Band being included in multiple honor bands on the local and district level as well as at the Alabama Bandmasters Allstate Band and Solo Festival, as well as taking part in multiple community events?

Students partaking in honor bands is huge to the band program. The students get exposed to many different aspects of “band” and then they bring that back to the program and talk about it and get other students more excited about the band and the possibilities. Students chosen for the district and all-state honor bands represent the top tier of not only our program but among the Shelby and Jefferson County areas and the entire state. As far as partaking in community events we jump at the chance to perform for our community as we are very well supported by them. As an example, throughout the existence of the band the city has helped financially support the band which has allowed growth for the band and most recently the city is providing an observation tower so that we as directors will have a better and safer vantage point to provide better feedback during marching rehearsals.


When it comes to band, what is your favorite aspect of your position?

 My favorite part of my job is getting to work with students and make a positive and hopefully lasting impact on their life that will allow them to be more successful in their careers and life in general.


Are there any words of encouragement or guidance you might like to share to students who are in the earlier years of their band involvement, especially those in middle school?

Stay involved. Band has afforded me great opportunities throughout the years. It may be slow at first and very challenging at times but the payoff is worth the wait. Throughout my career in band it has taken me places I would have never afforded to go otherwise. I’ve been to national championship games, many states throughout the continental United States and even abroad to other countries, all of these coming at little to no cost to me. The life skills I have learned I could never have learned without my involvement in the band. Band is like a family and you make great life long friends there.