HUSD music coordinator talks program and funding

■ Jason Miller / Contributed

Last month, the Chronicle featured the Hemet Unified Annual Jazz Festival. Recently, we sat down with the Director of Bands at Hemet High, Dan Boulton, who has served in that role since 2007. Before that Boulton, a native of California who grew up in Hemet, served at Dartmouth Middle School as their band director for eight years.
Boulton oversees six bands which include the symphonic, concert, and marching bands along with “Jazz 1” and “Jazz 2,” which were featured at the aforementioned jazz festival along with being the music coordinator for the entire Hemet Unified School District.
To represent HHS in one of the bands, “students must have a 2.0-grade point average or higher” says Boulton. About half of Boulton’s band students are AP (Advanced Placement) students along with being involved in school sports and extracurricular activities.
According to Boulton, sometimes he has to sit down some of his students for doing too much telling them that, “you’re spreading yourself to thin.” Boulton also says all his kids want to do well and succeed. He says he wants to motivate the kids by having good literature (music). He describes it as “putting pillars of humanity down in the middle of the band.”
Boulton told us he spends about fifty minutes with each band every day, Monday through Friday. He continued by saying, “the time we spend together in rehearsal is a sacred time where nothing outside of those walls matters.”
Regarding discipline, Boulton says that his students are “resilient” and “they want to be disciplined.” He often asks his students: “Do you want me to sugarcoat it and tell you that it sounds wonderful or do you want me to tell you the truth?” He says every single time his students respond they ask, “Tell us the truth – did it suck?”
Boulton says the key thing in his classes is listening.
On funding for arts programs like Boulton’s, he said their schools (for all the schools including four high-schools the four middle-schools across the district) are thriving and their budgets are solid. He claims some of the middle schools get $10,000 a year to replace instruments in their band room. He also said they are beginning a five-year rotation of band uniforms over the next five years in the high schools and middle schools with assistance from the district.
“A lot of the funding comes from fundraising within the community and small businesses,” said Boulton.
For more information on Hemet High bands or to donate go to www.hemethighband.com

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