Meet Hannah Mowry, Roosevelt High School’s New Band Director – knkx.org | Start Classified

Hannah Mowry brings fresh ideas to the band program at North Seattle’s Roosevelt High School. The trumpeter, singer and educator succeeds longtime Roosevelt band director Scott Brown, who was inducted into the Washington Music Educators Hall of Fame earlier this year.

Originally from east Washington, Mowry has spent the last four years as one of the instrumental music directors at Mt. Si High School in the Snoqualmie Valley, about 30 miles east of Seattle.

As a child, Mowry’s family gatherings always included playing instruments and singing. Her sister is also the director of a school band.

Mowry’s instrument of choice is the trumpet.

“I chose the trumpet when I was in fifth grade and I chose it for a number of reasons,” Mowry said. “I was a tomboy back then; now of course we all know that ‘gendering’ instruments are lame. But when I started, there were maybe three girls in the whole sixth grade who played the trumpet and 20 boys.”

“My brother played the trumpet before me,” Mowry continued. “My grandfather was a bugler in the army and I loved my grandfather. It kind of made me decide to play the trumpet. And of course I just exploded in love with this instrument. That got me all the way to where I am now , really.”

Switch from student to teacher

From taking piano lessons from the age of four through elementary, middle and high school, Mowry had music teachers who were patient, loving and positive.

“I was very lucky,” said Mowry. “Many teachers motivate based on fear or are very intense so that students are afraid of failing. It’s effective, but my teachers weren’t like that. It was positive loving energy all the time that worked really well for me as a student and that’s my approach now.”

Mowry studied at Central Washington University. At first she considered becoming a professional musician and doing studio work. But then her path to music education became apparent.

“I started teaching, and by my sophomore year I started thinking, ‘What’s the best way to give back to the world?’ Is it really about being a professional musician, or is there more?”

Mowry reflected on the influence of her own teachers and that sealed the deal.

“I really wanted to go down this educational path because, quite simply, I wouldn’t be who I am today without the music teachers in my life,” she said.

“Beyond being the musician I am, they taught me how to be a better person.”

Live from Boxley’s: Mowry – Warrior – Leather +

Above, left to right: Daniel Taylor, Ryan Donnelly, Jacob Krieger, Hannah Mowry and Bill Leather perform at Boxley’s in North Bend, Washington.

Musical education has developed in waves and waves

Mowry’s love of music led her to play jazz and classical and even participate in the drum and bugle corps.

“Music education has progressed,” Mowry said. “I think it’s become more normal to be a versatile musician. Drum corps and marching band are an art form as equal as jazz and an art form as equal as concert band and orchestral music. All of these things have their unique place in music and each has something beautiful to offer.”

Mowry acknowledged that the barriers women face in music extend to music education as well. She said fields like instrumental music, brass, and leading high school bands remained male-dominated.

Discrimination, micro-aggression, objectification are still evident in the music business, and that includes music education.

“I’ve spent a lot of time researching what that looks like, particularly in the educational world,” Mowry said. “I can see it better now. And my approach is always to show up lovingly and remind myself that this behavior often comes from ignorance. Often it is not malice. But that’s no excuse for that. I always try to reach out and enlighten rather than get upset or be combative or accusatory because none of those tactics work to create change.”

The first new band director in almost four decades

Scott Brown directed the Roosevelt bands for 38 years, and under his leadership, Roosevelt’s jazz groups won four first prizes at the world-renowned Essentially Ellington Competition and Festival presented in New York by Jazz at Lincoln Center. He also led the school’s marching band, the Rough Riders, through annual competitions.

Stepping into Brown’s shoes might be intimidating for some, but Mowry is thrilled.

“I have so much love and respect for Scott Brown. He’s loved by the community and by the students,” Mowry said.

“As a mentor and as a friend, Scott has been so important to me, especially while going through this transition process. I’ve called him dozens of times. We met and I’m making notes about his history and the history of the program.”

Essentially Ellington 2019: Roosevelt High School – What’s Coming

“Generally, my approach to this whole transition is, first, to honor the history and the origin and the legacy and everything specifically about Roosevelt High School jazz,” Mowry continued. “In every conversation I’ve had with students, parents, stakeholders of any kind, my first question to them has always been, ‘What do you want to preserve? Tell me what’s most important to you about the program.'”

That’s how jazz works

“The music itself kind of works that way, honoring tradition and heritage and also doing new things, creating and innovating,” Mowry said. “We are getting this opportunity in this new program with me as the new director, with new perspectives and new life experiences. It’s such a cool opportunity that we can do both.”

Mowry has her own ideas for expanding some facets of the program. But in the end it’s about the students.

“This program and this opportunity are not for me. It’s for the students. You are at the center of everything. Because that’s what we do here, we serve the students,” Mowry said. “So my goal will be to include her in the conversation immediately and always as much as possible.”

Mowry said it will be more than a conversation, it will be a collaboration with the students.

“I mean, we’re talking about some of the most talented, hard-working jazz musicians in the country, in the world. They probably have some good ideas, and they probably have an idea of ​​what they want their education to look like.”

Roosevelt High School begins the 2022-2023 school year on September 7th. In June, the program announced placements for next year’s ensembles, with more than 70 participating student musicians.

“I think it’s important for people to know that the decisions I make are always up to the students,” Mowry said.

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