With the school district down a music teacher for over a year and a half, an eager group of students immediately signed up to begin their band and choir classes in January, as Dr. Ben Gooch decided to join the teaching staff and relocate his family to Hawthorne.
Completing his undergraduate work at the Brigham Young University in Idaho, he continued on to receive his master’s degree at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah where he met his wife and married in 2010. Dr. Gooch then went on to complete his doctorate of musical arts at the University of Utah.
“I have had lots of schooling at this point and completed it all in 2016. My wife Amy received her degree in wildlife and conservation, doing her research studies in Nevada. Luckily she loves the small rural town atmosphere and the mountains all around,” Dr. Gooch shared.
Raised in the bay area of Alameda, Calif., he felt his time in school exposed him to the great outdoors. With two young boys, three years and five months old, this area allowed his wife to be a stay-at-home mother for now and they could live locally without any long commutes.
Currently Dr. Gooch is leading two junior high bands and choir classes and two high school bands and choir classes plus Hawthorne Elementary School has a band and choir class that walk over.
In watching Dr. Gooch teaching a fifth grade band class, it was easy to see that the students were enjoying his calm demeanor as he encouraged the smallest accomplishment in each one present. The children played songs from a workbook, as they were concentrating on fingering their instruments while reading music, then clapping out the rhythms as they followed the musical notes.
“Reading music can be like learning a foreign language,” Dr. Gooch shared with the kids.
With his own strong emphasis on personally playing the French horn, he has free lanced as a paid musician in many orchestras and worked with some memorable musicians. Knowing Reno is within driving distance, he is open to playing in the university orchestra setting and he has a connection there. As a special surprise to the students, the high school choir recently serenaded students in an impromptu concert within the class hallways.
At the end of the fifth grader band practice, each child shared that they were playing the same instruments that their parents had once played. Beaming with pride they all gave a thumbs up on their new teacher and the band class, with one student stating “I have been waiting for this.”