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The number of band members is up this year, which contributes to an enhanced sound and increases possible musical selections

Around Christmas time there were rumblings in the community about just how good the Colton High School band is this year. At a recent home basketball game a younger brother (around nine or ten) of a player on the visiting team kept getting off the bleachers and wandering down to the other end of the gym. I overheard his father asking his son what was so interesting down there.

"It is the best band," the youngster answered. "I would like to play like them."

PIONEER PHOTO: CINDY FAMA - Colton High School band practices under the direction of Bobby Rice.

So what makes this band so special? According to Colton School District music educator Bobby Rice, the number of band members is up to 22 (which is more than 11 percent of the CHS student population), and Rice says more instruments greatly enhances the sound and increases the musical selections they can add to their repertoire.

"...mostly it is the kids." -Bobby Rice

"But mostly it is the kids," Rice said. "Great kids that work hard and they like to make good music. They know that hard work brings rewards. They also work together well. They discuss the music, help each other out. The upperclassmen are great leaders. It's just a great atmosphere to make music. We always try to play good music, and conduct ourselves with class and have fun while we do it."

"I will always have music in my life..." -Morgan Ackermann

Senior clarinetist, Morgan Ackermann said, "I have made good friends playing in band. I will always have music in my life, even though I don't plan on music as a career, it is a good way to earn scholarships."

Rice has been with the district for 12 years, which means he has been with this year's junior class since they were in kindergarten. Besides teaching band and jazz band at the high school, he teaches beginner and intermediate band at the middle school and music curriculum at the elementary school level. Rice has been with the district for 12 years, which means he has been with this year's junior class since they were in kindergarten. Besides teaching band and jazz band at the high school, he teaches beginner and intermediate band at the middle school and music curriculum at the elementary school level.

A little about Rice

Rice says he moved around a lot during his childhood years, spending his elementary and middle school years in different areas of Texas, with the exception of one year in the very small town of Adin, California. He graduated from Martinsburg High School in West Virginia, received his bachelor's in music education at Shepherd College (now University) in West Virginia and his master's in education from Grand Canyon University.

His love of music stems from hearing and singing a lot of music in church. His mother and dad both sang, his mother plays piano and his father plays guitar.

"I was blessed to have a lot of great band teachers in school." -Bobby Rice

"I took some piano lessons, but started trumpet in fourth grade," Rice said. "I was blessed to have a lot of great band teachers in school. Where I really fell in love with music was in high school, though. I landed in a great band program at Martinsburg High School under the direction of John Lynch. I moved from trumpet to tuba, euphonium and trombone. Band pretty much dominated my life the rest of High School, with marching, concert and jazz bands. Almost all my friends were band people. By the time I got out of high school, doing anything else really didn't even cross my mind."

His mother and father (a pastor) live in Texas, his brother drives big rigs across the country and he has two children, his daughter is a freshman in college and his son will be a 2018 high school graduate.

"I will literally watch any competition the Olympics will show us..." -Bobby Rice

When asked about hobbies, Rice says he loves to make music and plays bass for worship at his church. He played bass with a Christian rock band for about seven years and says he still has music to make and would like to get into something like that again. He is also an astronomy buff and enjoys reading real books, "with paper pages." And Rice loves the Olympics, "I will literally watch any competition the Olympics will show us, summer or winter. I will watch things I would never watch normally. Ice dancing? I'm there! That being said, I love short track skating, skeleton, luge, downhill racing and curling.

When asked what the band and music department in Colton could use, Rice said, "There is some percussion equipment that we don't have or have to share between buildings, if you ever see a small car driving across Colton with a kettle drum hanging out of the back gate, it might be me. Some things I'd love to see that would be really positive for the kids would be a good set of timpani, a set of concert chimes, a vibraphone and a marimba. That's a nice wish list. We often have a call for those in our music and our great percussionists can't cover the parts. It's amazing the difference that can make, not just in the sound of the music but also in the skills the kids are building."

"Bobby Rice is a tremendous asset to our community." -Superintendent Koreen Barreras-Brown

"Our music program is outstanding!" Colton School District Superintendent Koreen Barreras-Brown said in an email. "Bobby Rice is a tremendous asset to our community. Whether it's listening to the band at a formal concert, at a game or just stopping by the classroom, it is by far one of my favorite things about my job. If you haven't had the chance, I highly recommend you listen and observe the Viking band and Mr. Rice in action."  

The CHS bands will be playing at a concert band festival this year on April 10 in Estacada (more information on times to follow).

Cindy Fama

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