Unusual among small schools, Adrian has a thriving band program for sixth graders through high school.
According to the Public School Review, the Adrian School District had 234 students last year – 72 in high school and 162 students in the grade school. Many participate in band.
For the high school boys, this may mean playing drums during girls basketball games until the third quarter, when they leap up and hit the locker room to change for the start of the boys game.
For the girls, the reverse holds true. They play their game, hurry back to the locker room to change, and rush out to grab an instrument to play for the boys game.
For sixth-graders, playing in the band means an occasional road trip when the varsity teams make the playoffs.
“Students are encouraged to try out an instrument in fifth grade,” said Lorine VanCorbach, music educator for the district since 2001. “I think in all the years we have offered the class, maybe only two or three have not taken the opportunity to pick up an instrument at least for the year.”
VanCorbach says it’s about more than music. She also hopes the experience will benefit her students the way it has helped her.
A 27-year wife and mother of three, VanCorbach previously worked as a dental assistant. However, even in the dentist’s office, music was always on her mind.
“Growing up, I had struggles when it came to reading,” she explained. “My mother started me on piano lessons. Once I started music, things just seemed to click.”
Doing better in her classes, even tough days become better as VanCorbach also got involved in singing.
“I would relieve stress just be singing to myself whenever,” she said.
At age 13, VanCorbach started to teach piano to others. And experience with one particular student started to show today’s teacher where her path might take her.
“I was teaching a student who had Down’s Syndrome who was about 10 years older than me,” VanCorbach said. “It amazed me how much she started to retain after being in piano classes just a short time. Music became so important to her.”
After meeting her future husband, the couple decided to move to the Treasure Valley area when he got out of the Air Force. He started working while she attended Northwest Nazarene University.
After graduating with a degree in music education, VanCorbach started the job in Adrian; her husband now works for Vale’s Stepleton Electric.
VanCorbach’s hope that music will touch her students resonates with Adrian band members.
“I love band, it is a form of expression for me,” said Mary Gordon, a freshman who plays baritone saxophone. “I plan to continue playing throughout high school.”
Like many students in the band program, Gordon participates in other activities at Adrian High School. She is on the basketball, softball, and track teams and also is an artist.
For sophomore clarinet player Jade Faulconer, the music and the band are important.
“It is fun and the one class that gets me through the school day,” she said.
Although she plans on pursuing graphic arts as a career after her days at Adrian High School, Faulconer said music will always be a part of her life.
“I like the support you get in music and will always be involved in music in one way or another,” she said.
Senior bass clarinet player Hunter Phelps has been involved in band since sixth grade – just not always on the same instrument.
“I started with the regular clarinet, but it broke,” he said. “I switched over to the bass clarinet as it was available.”
As a future welder, Phelps said his band class has made other classes easier for him.
“It is fun and relaxing and it makes my brain make other classes more easily understood,” said Phelps. “I might continue playing after graduation.”
A pickup from the Nampa School District this year has proven a valuable asset to the band. Freshman James Ellsworth can handle any brass instrument and is seen with multiple instruments surrounding him, picking up and playing two or three during one song.
“I have played since sixth grade,” said Ellsworth. “I can play just about any brass instrument they hand me.”
After being in Nampa in the junior high school level, Ellsworth is facing his first year of high school in Adrian with gusto, running distance events on the track team and playing football in addition to his band duties.
Just a year away from high school, eighth-grader Kenzie Sorrel also brings many talents to the program, taking on both the saxophone and percussion instruments.
“Being in the band is just fun,” said Sorrel, who also plays basketball, volleyball, softball, track and performs in the drama department and plays guitar.
Fellow eighth-graders Illana Bower and Martina Ramirez both started their musical careers in fifth grade and are still playing.
“I think music opens up more opportunities all the way around,” said Bower.
Heading towards a nursing career, senior Miriah Richardson, a flutist, said her time in the band has helped in many areas of her education.
“It helps in the way I think in other classes,” said Richardson. “Music has really helped me understand other things.”
Looking down the road, VanCorbach sees nothing but promise for music in one of the smallest schools in the state to have a music program. She cites the backing of the public and of principal Kevin Purnell.
“The community support is what has made this program what it is,” she said. “People ask me all the time where the band is when we miss a game. Kevin fully supports what we do and is always there to help.
“Right now, I see me teaching here in Adrian until I die.”