Hankamer Chapel became the setting for a concert with a totally different feel; drawing on jazz and rock vibes, students from sixth, seventh and eighth grade band, along with upper school bands, performed classic hits with an instrumental edge. Enraptured audience members couldn’t resist tapping their feet or swaying to the beat of the catchy tunes.
Director of Instrumental Music Kendel Hickenbottom, affectionately known as “Mr. H” by the students, says he hopes we can make this new event a regular concert year after year. According to Cindy Blades, Director of Arts, “Mr. H has made an incredible impact on the growth of the Instrumental Music Department, revitalizing the interest and musicianship of our students at Second Baptist School.”
"Kendel Hickenbottom’s band students were an expression of creativity and joy. Mid-Semester Jam was an incredible show! The talent and hard work of our band students was evident and Mr. Hickenbottom’s commitment to their expression defines excellence in the arts,” says Ellen Barrett, Director of Middle School. Middle and upper schoolers worked alongside one another to make this event possible, enjoying combined rehearsals and collaboration.
Sophomore Dominic Cestero, a trumpet player, says his favorite part of the concert was hearing eighth grader Brandon Sek's trumpet solo. He says, “It's really cool knowing that the younger band members are developing so fast, and when I graduate, the band will be in good hands.” Kaylee Marshall ‘24 also enjoyed the collaborative feel with the younger students, saying, “Everyone sounded amazing, and it was really fun when we all got to play together.”
“Feeling Good,” by Bricusse and Newley, was a highlight of the show with a “fun beat and great bass parts,” continues Kaylee. Will Young ‘25, tenor saxophone player with three jaw-dropping solos, says his favorite song was “Beat It,” and the audience also loved “Ain’t No Sunshine.” Classic songs with high energy charged the experience for the audience.
Students took ownership of this program by choosing the musical selections. Kendel Hickenbottom describes the process, saying, "I sat down with students of all grade levels, starting with sixth grade, and played recordings for them, allowing them to pick the tunes we played.” He explained, “My thought was to pick music that students like; if they have fun with the music because they picked it, then it is a win all the way around." During the concert, Mr. H pointed out that most of the selections were very advanced, with extreme technical difficulty, making it even more impressive that middle school students were holding their own.
Sixth grade drum set player Rylan Boutwell summarizes the joy of the instrumental music program evident in this performance as she says, “I was so excited to be a part of the school band this year! After my first day, I knew I never wanted to do anything else. Mr. H is an amazing director and I couldn't ask for better bandmates. I can't wait for what years ahead have in store!”