Band director Susan Eckerle brings life lessons to students through music

The band music rings melodiously throughout the hallway. Walking further down the hall, the music begins to get louder. The room is filled with students playing their latest song, preparing for their concert. The teacher conducts them along through the song, allowing the students to play their music with a passion.

Music has impacted students’ lives, especially in the school’s music department. Band teacher and marching band instructor Susan Eckerle helps to guide musicians to live up to their best potential. Eckerle has been teaching for 29 years, in various states around the country, such as Hawaii, California and Mississippi. Eckerle describes the first time she knew she wanted to be a teacher on her third day of band class in seventh grade. “I started on a Monday and I told my band director, ‘I want to play a trumpet’, and that night I went home and told my parents I wanted a trumpet, they got me one. On Wednesday I went home and knew that this is what I wanted to do,” Eckerle said.

She has offered me the Wootton band family and all of the opportunities that come with being a part of this incredible organization.”

— Sara Bock

Students enjoy Eckerle’s passion and love for teaching music just as much as Eckerle herself. Eckerle loves to get to know students and their personalities, making it easier to connect with them on a personal level. “She has offered me the Wootton band family and all of the opportunities that come with being a part of this incredible organization,” junior Sara Bock said.

Eckerle crafts each piece of music differently from the others. A different touch is added to each note, and one measure is considered completely different from another. Students are encouraged to display their unique musicality. Freshman Yana Kohli, a flute player in Patriot Winds, learns new things frequently. “She definitely gives a lot of critiques to help understand what we can do to make us individually and as a band better,” Kohli said.

Music has not only impacted students but Eckerle herself. Eckerle cannot see herself doing anything else, and no other career is meant to be for her. The diversity of the students and the constant impact she has on them encourages Eckerle. “Mrs. Eckerle’s teaching style is unlike any band director that I have ever seen. Instead of just telling students how to make something better, she invites them to make a musical decision on their own and develop their own musicality,” Bock said.

Marching band proves to be a space where students can thrive on diversity, growth and collective spirit as an ensemble to create music. Marching band starts early in the summer, toward the beginning of July, as the group works through challenges together. “For them to come together, you’re working with about 80 to 90 people, all trying to create a six to seven-minute show that is artistic and unique,” Eckerle said.