New band director assigned for next year

At the end of the 2009-2010 school year, AHS will be bidding farewell to current band director, Mark Carter, and welcoming his replacement, Andrew Loft. Band students have already begun to prepare for the transition between Carter and Loft. “I think it’s going to be a really good transition. He’s used to public school and how they run. That’s going to be very good for us. He’s very experienced and he sounds like a very cool guy,” said freshman Alexis Garretson.

Loft has served as the Director of Bands at Colonial Forge High School since it first opened in 1999. Under his direction, the band and percussion ensembles consistently received Superior ratings at district and state competitions, which is the highest grade any music group can receive. Colonial Forge High School is currently Virginia Honor Band and Virginia Music Educators Association Blue Ribbon School.

Loft earned his Master’s Degree from the University of Miami in Tuba Performance. He also received a Bachelor’s Degree Cum Laude in Music Education from the University or Tennessee at Martin. Loft is a two-time recipient of the Merit for the Millennium Award, and serves as an active musician in the Fairfax Wind Symphony.

The AHS band program has been through a rough year-and-a-half; with the abrupt departure of Jack Elgin and the difficult transition that followed with Carter’s arrival, the upcoming school year will be critical for the band department and will take the effort of parents, students and the new director in order for the transition to be smooth.

“I hope that the new director will try to implement new teaching methods, and that the students won’t give up on the new director like we did this year, and give him the respect that he deserves,” said senior Matt Stough.

Without a doubt, Elgin left very big shoes to fill. As a result of everything that he did to provide for the band program, it seems as though no one will be able to leave the same impression that he did. Several students did not return to Band for the 2009 – 2010 school year specifically because of this.

“It’s a shame that Mr. Carter was with us for such a small amount of time, “ said senior Melissa Walter. “But the new director is a nine-time honor band director and that’s really important to us. It’s important that the Band is about the students and not just about the parents and the Band Boosters. I can’t wait to come back and see what he does with the Band.”

The underclassmen have expressed excitement over the prospect of the transition to a  new band director and seem to be looking forward to the 2010-2011 school year.

“With the district boundary changes and the seniors leaving this year, we’re going to lose a lot of people, so I hope we can come together and pull through this,” said junior Alex Eggleston.

“I would hope that he is very percussion-oriented and likes loud music,” said sophomore Monte McCarthy. “I hope that he keeps band fun.”

“Any time you switch band directors it puts a lot of stress on the program, but if we keep an open mind I think we will be able to recreate our legacy,” said senior Matt Stough.