Thursday, February 8, 2018

A Musical Story

And now, back to where we left off. The story of Wendell Hanes: musician, composer, founder/owner of Volition Sound Branding, published author, and entrepreneur.

Oh, and a graduate of Howard County Schools. Oakland Mills High School, to be precise.

Did you read the article? Go ahead. Watch the multimedia bit as well.

This article piqued my curiosity. Of course, the first thing I wanted to know: did Mr. Hanes participate in music programs while a student in the Howard County Schools?

He did.

And then he didn’t.

Mr. Hanes told me he played in the concert band and jazz band in elementary and middle school and then he played on his own in high school. Why did things change in high school? Why didn't this budding musician continue on in the OMHS band?

He played sports: soccer and basketball. You couldn’t do that and play in the band. So that was the end of his musical career—in high school, that is. But while a student at Brown University, Hanes was in a car accident that changed the course of his life.

As he recuperated at home that summer, a gift from his parents changed his career goals. "They sparked me into getting into music inadvertently," he says. "They got me a keyboard. I couldn't play the trumpet anymore. I stayed in the house the entire summer and worked on the keyboard.”

Mr. Hanes clearly had talent. He had the grounding of an excellent elementary and middle school music education. He had a love of music. He had family support. He had the capacity to imagine new challenges, new horizons. And he had determination to work at something new and to keep at it. Most musicians I know say that talent isn’t the be-all and end-all. It’s a starting point. What’s more important is the ability to learn, to work hard, to practice again and again, to listen to and respond to feedback. To grow.

And I hazard a guess that’s just what has made Mr. Hanes the professional musician he is today.   

What drew me to his story most is the intersection between Mr. Hanes’ career  and my husband’s line of work. He (Richard McCready) teaches high school students how to make their own music in Music Technology classes in the Howard County Public Schools. Many of his students go on to pursue careers in music. 

A good chunk of his students play sports, too. (There’s no scheduling conflict.) So, if they can’t be in a performance ensemble, or want to make music in different ways, they still have a place to learn and grow.

I’m excited to know Mr. Hanes had his beginning in Howard County Schools music programs. Clearly he did just fine following his own path. But I think it’s excellent that our school system has broadened its offerings to include more musical options at the high school level. Who knows? Perhaps one of our HoCo Music Tech teachers is mentoring a future Wendell Hanes right now.

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