Goshen musician and Junior High School band director
When you take a young player – he’s never had a trumpet in his hand, or a saxophone, or a trombone – and you’re able to say, ‘Okay, this is a mouthpiece, and you blow into this and you make it buzz.’ Then you make sounds on the horn for three or four weeks after that.
Most people say, ‘How can you stand that?’
And when they start playing actual music, there’s this energy that comes into your body and you think, ‘How could you not love this?’
I have sixth, seventh, and eighth grade. I used to be the high school band director. I actually retired officially from teaching in 2016, but I was going to go to a neighboring school as a part-timer. And so I was with my son on the West Coast and this telephone rang and a voice said, ‘You haven’t signed a contract yet, have you?’ and I said no.
Goshen said, ‘Don’t. We really want you to come back here and teach part time.’ And I said, ‘I can do that.’ So I’ve been teaching part-time since 2016,
We have a fall concert coming up on November 20 at Goshen Junior High School. The sixth graders are going to be playing their first legitimate concert. They’ll be playing “Jingle Bells,” a song called ‘My Dreidel” – it’s kind of a candle dance, it’s kind of slow – and they’re going to play “Up on the Housetop.”
All of the songs they kind of recognize, so it makes it easier for them to learn them. But they still have to have range on the instrument! They have to have tone quality, they have to be able to perform like an adult. We have about 130 kids in our sixth grade band, and we just had our first full rehearsal.
If you pick music that’s boring, that’s your fault, so we try to pick music for each of these bands that they go, ‘Hey, Mr. Mault, can we play this one now? Can we play this one now?’
We feed off their energy. We try to pick tunes that they like. I have to like them, too, I really want us to – we’re a team when we do this.
When I die, then I’m done. I tell my kids that. Don’t cry for me. You should say, ‘He was a lucky guy.’ I really feel that way about it.
You wouldn’t think with my background that I could get to where I’m at because it wasn’t conducive to being a professional in any way because I grew up on a farm. We didn’t have indoor plumbing. We had an outhouse. We lived like Laura Ingalls. That’s how I grew up.
But my dad said you can do anything you want to do if you work at it, and so I always believed that.
In our school, we had band two days a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays. We didn’t have what you call a field marching band, we had what you call a street band. I really liked doing that. That’s really where my life took a turn. And it just seemed like no matter where I went, music became a part of my life. I didn’t understand it fully. But I am a trumpet player, and I practiced a lot. I didn’t have private lessons, so I wasn’t what you called a skilled musician.
I started in sixth grade. So when I think about my present sixth graders compared to what I was as a sixth grader – we’re not even in the same world! My sixth graders are like lightyears ahead of where I was as a trumpet player.
It’s odd. In my yearbook, they always have these quotes about people – what they think they’re going to be. And so their prediction for me was that I was going to be a road musician and be on the road for years and years, and I have no idea why they thought that.
They must have seen something in me that I didn’t see. Does that make sense?
The pivotal moment is when I got this piece of paper that Pat Hampshire – who was the guy we formed this band with. It said, ‘Do you want to start a rock band?’ If it hadn’t been for that, there would have been no Music Syndrome – our band.
That was the pathway to the rest of my life.
This community is like my entire family. I could be at Walmart, I could be at Meijer, I could be at the Olympia, and a lot of these people who come in were parents at one time, but they were also groupies of my band. I’m serious! Our band president was one of the groupies who followed our band around – the Music Syndrome, yeah! He was the same age as me at that time, working a job. Then I started teaching at the high school and his daughter shows up and goes, ‘My dad knows you.’ I said, ‘How’s that?’ and he said, he used to hear you all the time.
That’s how this family is here in Goshen. It’s pretty cool.”