Victoria Newman

“It’s a different hat. High school students respond differently than elementary school kids. And the way that you talk to them is different, so you do have to change character and change hat,” said West Band Teacher Clifton Thurmond.

Thurmond has been teaching at both high schools and elementary schools for all nineteen years of his career as a teacher. “Teaching high schoolers I’m able to have more closer to adult conversations with kids and interactions with kids where at the elementary school I kind of have to put on more of a dad type personality,” said Thurmond.

Thurmond provides both high schoolers and younger kids the joy of music, and for the younger kids a dash of inspiration. “When little kids see a man in the building it’s unique to them, sometimes they make me feel like a celebrity, I walk into the building, kids who don’t know me like little kindergarteners will give me hugs, but it’s not like that in high school. It’s more you see them in the halls and they struggle to make eye contact with you,” said Thurmond.

Throughout history music has always been categorized under the entertainment side of things. Yet to Thurmond, music is educational. “Music is very influential on everybody’s brain whether you’re a first grader or 80 year old man. Music is one of the few things in our world that exercises all four chambers of your brain at the same time,” said Thurmond.

“They learn better in other classes because they are involved in instrumental music,” said Thurmond. Music is a huge part of the world and having that strong connection to something and putting it to learning the alphabet or learning how to count can only make the world smarter.

“Mr. Knapp was more loose, Mr. Thurmond isn’t as strict as he used to be in elementary school but…Mr. Thurmond really pushes us,” said Freshman Sam Starne, a trombone player.

Repetition is key for many of the band students at West. “I guess he makes us play it over and over to practice,” Freshman Landon DeVille said. Thurmond takes learning to heart when he gives his students new pieces, though he can be loose about practicing, according to Starne, the students still learn and perfect beautiful pieces that Thurmond gives them. “He expects us to do better and stuff like that,” said Starne.  

Thurmond has a very busy schedule from teaching high schoolers at West and then teaching younger kids at Woodland Elementary. He offers the younger kids an introduction to music, while also making it fun. He gives high schoolers difficult pieces to further their knowledge when it comes to music, shaping possible professional musicians in the future.

Whether it is the little kindergartner or the high schooler, Thurmond has made an impact on the lives in all ages.