Imagine teaching at the school that not only you attended as a child, but where your mother went to school and was the drum major. “I understand and appreciate the culture of excellence that has been established at The King’s Academy (TKA),” says Wes Lowe. “My heritage and ties to the band program here inspire and motivate me to lead the program in a way that continues to have life-changing impact on my students. I love teaching at TKA and want to uphold the legacy of the instrumental arts program.”
One way Lowe is doing this is by increasing band enrollment numbers. “Teaching at a K-12 school that is housed on one campus has some great benefits, such as being able to streamline the program so I can be involved in each band class,” he explains.
Lowe schedules performance trips to Disney World, Atlanta and Boston to provide motivation and incentives for his middle and high school students. “But the key to have a successful program is to have a strong beginning band program,” he says. “I took the lead in these classes and opened up band instruction for 4th-grade students for the first time. With research and study, I implemented proper fundamentals and training to these beginner band students all while making the class fun and enjoyable.”
Another area that has really taken off at TKA is the jazz program. Lowe credits this growth to three things: 1) He sets the bar for his students to perform at a professional level. “We take recordings of professional jazz bands and aim to play and perform at that level,” he says. 2) “Night of Jazz” concerts are scheduled throughout the school year where the jazz ensemble performs 14 or more jazz charts to sold-out audiences. Special guest artists like Duffy Jackson and Wayne Bergeron have performed with the band. 3) The jazz band consistently performs for the community. “This is a vital part of the program. Performing at retirement communities, charitable events and downtown marketplaces allows us to share the joy of music, and it opens the eyes and minds of my students to fully realize the power and impact that music can have on people,” Lowe says.
Lowe also spends time planning for the marching band’s halftime shows. “My goal with my halftime show is to produce a show that is modern and contemporary while creating an experience that isn’t typical for a high school marching band,” Lowe says. “I plan to the strengths of my program, which change each year. This year, I have an amazing singer, so I designed the show around her.”
The show included pyrotechnics, a specially choreographed dance routine and costumes that fit the style of the music. “I knew we would be compared to a Super Bowl halftime show because that is the standard and level that we aim to achieve,” Lowe says. “This was the first year we did a performance like this, and it surprised and shocked the audience in an impressive way. But next year might be completely different, and I am completely fine with that because it allows me to be creative and modern with my approach and design.”