A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending my oldest son’s 6th grade band concert. I’ll admit that although I was happy to see my trumpet player, I wasn’t doing cartwheels at the thought of spending my entire evening listening to middle schoolers attempt to play The Star Spangled Banner. I was completely wrong. I was thoroughly entertained by these young musicians. They sounded great. They were having fun. They were thrilled with themselves because they could see that the audience was enjoying the show and rewarding them with thunderous applause. At the helm of it all is a man who I (and many, many others) believe to be THE GREATEST MIDDLE SCHOOL BAND TEACHER OF ALL TIME!
My first interviewee for 1tastylife, Kelly Hulderman, was one of Jim Swislocki’s students. Kelly suggested I interview Mr. Swis. After the concert, I decided she was right. Mr. Swis is a man who is living his ONE LIFE. It is evident that he enjoys what he does. Each kid that passes though his band doors comes out with a love for music and the knowledge and tools to move onward and upward in life.
What is the best motivational advice you’ve ever received?
Early on during fifth grade band I decided I was bored and wanted to quit. My mother left the choice up to me. She did not force me to stay in or make me feel bad about my decision. She understood that in order for a child to have success in something they have to want it themselves. Obviously, I decided to stay in band. During my freshman year at the Conservatory of Music I was struggling to keep up with my work. Band went from something fun in high school to “work” in college. I contemplated switching my major so I could be a math teacher instead. Several people including my parents, future wife, and professor helped me work my way through all of my concerns. I came out of that situation stronger and with a renewed outlook on my music education career.
Mr. Swis shows the kids that band is fun. Each year some of his 7th grade students have an opportunity to play at a Cleveland Monsters game and a Lake County Captains game. Mr. Swis is a fantastic role model for his students. I’m very fortunate that my son has had the opportunity to be in his class. Mr. Swis has helped Trenton grow his musical passion. Not only has he learned to play the trumpet pretty well, but his guitar playing has improved quite a bit. I hear Trenton in his room frequently teaching himself a new song on the guitar that he plays on the trumpet in band class.