Rising freshman Eduardo Vazquez gets a lesson on the baritone horn from Lincolnton High School’s new band director, Josh Belvin.
He’s 24, just received his master’s degree from the University of Connecticut and has been playing in school bands since he was in seventh grade. Now, he can also add Lincolnton High band director to his resume.
Josh Belvin, a North Carolina native who has lived in Lincoln County off-and-on for 15 years, hopes to bring fresh ideas and knowledge to the high school starting this year, beginning with a new member orientation and band camp this month.
Belvin ran an 8 a.m. to noon event Thursday, geared toward rising eighth-graders who have some band experience and freshmen who have never marched before. Veteran band members, who may have just transferred to the school and aren’t used to the LHS style, were also welcome to attend the orientation.
The pre-camp practice and band camp will hopefully help Belvin get acquainted with the students he’ll be working with in the upcoming school year.
The recent college graduate had his first band experience when he played the trumpet in seventh grade at East Lincoln Middle. At first just something to do for fun, Belvin would later see how instrumental his high school band years would be in shaping his future.
“When I was a sophomore at East Lincoln High, I became a trumpet section leader; that’s where the story began for why I am where I am today,” Belvin told the Times-News Thursday.
After high school he headed to Western Carolina University, where he received his bachelor’s degree in Music Education, and took on yet another new role in a school band. He became the staff coordinator, essentially the assistant band director, and was involved with the administrative mechanics behind putting a band together rather than actually playing.
With a degree under his belt, Belvin headed north to New England to further his education in music.
While at UConn, he completed an assistantship. He was taking classes toward a master’s degree, while serving as the graduate assistant for the Athletic Band Program on campus, where he learned tools he hopes to bring to the LHS.
He received his second degree in May and accepted the job three weeks ago. When he heard about the job opportunity in his former home county, he was excited about the possibilities. He’s been impressed with the progress Lincolnton and West Lincoln schools have made with their band programs, he said.
Barely unpacked, Belvin has already been making plans for how to change things up. He hopes to create a second concert band for more advanced students and wants to start a jazz band at the school – a group he hopes will make an impact outside of the classroom.
“It’s exciting to be able to expand options for these students; smaller schools sometimes don’t have many options available to them,” Belvin said.
“I really want them to be active in their community, too, that’s important. I’m hoping to cultivate a leadership academy, where each one will understand their role in the group and for everyone to feel like they own their own piece of the band.”
Through his leadership academy, he hopes to expand roles for students to fill. Creating historian and video staffs are ideas he has to get the members involved, rather than them just showing up and playing their instruments for an hour each school day.
Working with East Lincoln Middle and High, WCU and UConn bands has helped the new director find his own way in pushing his students to be better. Settling for being mediocre is not something he will ever submit to, he promises, and won’t let his band members do it either.
Over his time in various band rooms, working with different directors and performing in an array of venues, the rookie teacher has crafted a shortcut to success; he has weeded through what works and doesn’t when it comes to learning and teaching, he said.