Unsung Heroes
Casey Lawson
by Jacque Garcia
The Times-Independent
Dec 21, 2017 | 560 views | 0 0 comments | 53 53 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Casey Lawson
Casey Lawson conducts the Grand County High School band in her Princess Leia Halloween costume.      Photo courtesy Casey Lawson
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Casey Lawson’s passion for music is outweighed only by her passion to teach music to others. As the band teacher for Grand County middle and high schools since 2015, she does just that.

“It’s neat to see each kid grow as a musician,” Lawson said. “More than anything, I want them to experience how much fun music can be, and sometimes I like to set the example by showing how much fun I have with it myself.”

Lawson took the position as band teacher after she graduated from the University of Colorado, where she studied music education and trumpet. But her love for music began long before that, she explained, saying, “I’ve played the trumpet since I was 11 years old.”

Her responsibilities as Moab’s band teacher include three high school bands: concert band, jazz band and marching band, in addition to the middle school band. Because of this, she juggles a wide variety of skill levels and musical styles. What may be most impressive, though, is that she runs a program of 20 to 30 students, in which high school students voluntarily show up before school every day at 6:30 a.m. to participate in the marching and jazz bands. Marching band includes additional requirements on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, as well as attending football games.

“It’s very busy, but also very rewarding,” said Lawson.

Joining the band takes no prerequisites. “They can start from scratch,” Lawson said. When a student is interested in band, they will sit down for a one-on-one appointment with Lawson, in which she helps them pick their instrument. Since she began teaching band three years ago, Lawson has seen the middle school program double in size, from just over 20 to almost 50 students.

“I think it’s just because it’s fun and they make a lot of friends,” said Lawson of the expansion “It’s a fun community for them to be a part of.”

Lawson’s work-study student, Isabel Becerra, said the program’s success has to do with more than the fun environment, though. “I feel like there wasn’t any other person that could have made our band better,” Becerra said of Lawson. “We could tell she wanted to make the band be the best it could be. From the moment we saw her, we knew she would be the one.”

Becerra is a high school junior and is interested in continuing her music education. Lawson is teaching Becerra to be a music director, a process filled with an array of different lessons, according to Becerra. “I understand more about band and the happiness she gets from it,” Becerra said of her experience learning to teach music to other students, with Lawson’s guidance. “It may just be one note,” continued Becerra, “and it seems really simple, but it made me really happy.”

Of Lawson’s other lessons, Becerra elaborated: “She doesn’t let anything get in her way. She manages to get things done even when there are a lot of obstacles in her way. That was a really important lesson.”

For Lawson, it’s all about the kids. “Having a role in the football game, they have pride in that,” Lawson said. “Being the soundtrack to the game, they have an important role.”

As the music program grows, Lawson is working to implement new and exciting opportunities for the students. “The other music teachers and I have teamed up more this year than in the past. We’re trying to join all the music students together to create a community.”

This year, the band program is fundraising to take the students on a trip to Grand Junction, Colo., in the spring, where they would be able to attend a performance at the symphony, and also give a performance of their own.

Lawson also performs with the Fiery Furnace Marching Band in Moab, and claims her experience with the school band has increased her love for her own music as well. “I definitely think I learn something new all the time,” she said. “I started to see students seeking their own musical opportunities outside of the stuff I give them, and that’s really cool to see. They’re discovering the joy of music, and that’s one of my main goals.”


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