VERNON — Stepping onto the Rockville High School Music Program conductor’s podium will be a new face — Raymond Sinclair.
Starting this fall, he will teach combined band classes and music technology classes, and said he hopes to start AP music theory and piano or guitar lessons.
Sinclair moved to Vernon two years ago with his wife and three daughters, taking over the home of his recently deceased mother-in-law.
“My wife grew up in Vernon, went to Rockville High,” Sinclair said. “His brother was a big baseball star here, Matt Schumey.”
Originally from Norwich, Sinclair graduated from the Norwich Free Academy. He attended the University of Connecticut for his undergraduate degree, studying music education, then went to Quinnipiac University, where he earned a master’s degree in educational leadership.
For six years, Sinclair served as a group principal at Cromwell High School.
“I…built an amazing program,” he said. “I had six great years and won national awards and competitions.”
Although he doesn’t want to leave Cromwell, he said the opportunity to teach music at a school in the town where he lives and to be able to spend more time with his family was something he couldn’t. Give Way.
“It’s a bit bittersweet, because I love everyone there, but if I can be close to home and hang out with my girls, then it’s going to be good for everyone,” did he declare.
Sinclair said he started studying music at an early age.
“My father was a musician,” he says. “He was a deacon in our church. He took me to a youth group and I was there every Sunday and sang in the church choir, and it started for me. My whole family was musicians. It all goes back to my grandmother, who took us around the piano during the holidays and played. It’s always been a very musical family.
He says music has become his passion. He started with the violin before moving on to the trumpet and then the trombone in primary school.
Sinclair has said that although his music career has taken him into being an educator, he still performs on occasion.
“I love playing my instrument and I always play with local jazz bands and play at a professional level,” he said. One of his next adventures will be playing trombone in the production of the musical ‘The Full Monty’ at the Little Theater in Manchester from August 5-21.
Although his primary instrument is the trombone, Sinclair said he makes it a point to learn a new instrument every year.
“I play them all,” he said. “In college, I had to take method classes, so you have to study all the instruments, but studying them doesn’t necessarily make you a good player. I still have trouble with the flute.
“I’ve always wanted to have my own marching band,” he says. “I spent six years marching in drum corps. I spent a lot of time in the professional field, getting the tools I needed to succeed on the football field and in the classroom. My vision for this program in five years, I want them to get a state championship, maybe a New England championship. I would like to go to the national championships. I want this district to be proud of the band and part of the music program. That’s why I was brought here.
Last year, he says, the school had 20 band members. He expects this year’s group to be between 30 and 40 and hopes to increase it to 120 within five years.
“A lot of it is with personality and passion,” he said. “If the kids see that you enjoy what you do, they’ll eat it and they’ll want to follow you. I will be bringing in a lot of world class instructors for the marching band. Children will have great instructors and they will have the tools to succeed.
Students should expect to work hard.
“I’m going to do whatever I think the kids can handle,” he said. “That doesn’t mean I’m not going to push them or see where their limits are close. In my experience, if they feel they’re doing something right, if they feel there’s a good product, they will want to get started, they will want to be competitive.
Sinclair said her method of teaching involves demonstrating how to solve a technical problem a student may have.
“Some music teachers will just explain it and they won’t like to show it,” he said. “They are more like conductors. I don’t consider myself a conductor. I think of myself as a kind of instructor getting into it. I installed my podium where I have all the brass around me and some wood. Depending on what we’re playing, I’ll take it, I’ll demo it. I’m going to explain to them what I’m doing and have them replay it so they can really see it.
Marching band camp for new members begins Aug. 12, with the rest of the band showing up for two weeks of rehearsals from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Then, during the fall semester, there will be additional evening rehearsals from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
“They haven’t made such an aggressive schedule and this will be my first, ‘can they handle it?'” he said.
By the end of music camp, he said, he intends to have finished all the show on the field for the first football game of the season the second week of school.
“I want to make a show accessible to crowds,” he said, encouraging them to stick around and watch the halftime show before making any concessions.
“I’m thinking of a sort of space spectacle, call it ‘One Small Step,'” he said, a theme honoring the space race to the moon in the 1960s, set to two fanfare arrangements of the instrumental by Michael W. Smith. Freedom album.
“I have a lot of ideas to try and pull it off, putting trampolines out there so we can simulate weightlessness and all kinds of different things,” he said.