ROCKINGHAM — When Heather Pike graduates this yr from Richmond Senior, she accomplishes one thing that could possibly be a one-of-a-kind second within the college’s 50-year historical past.
Pike has performed the clarinet for the reason that sixth grade and spent the previous 4 years marching in Raider Stadium, serving to cheer the soccer group to victory in the course of the many Friday Evening Lights.
What makes this story so distinctive has actually nothing to do with Pike however moderately the almost 40-year-old clarinet Pike has used for all these years.
When requested about why she selected the clarinet again as a sixth grader at Hamlet Center College, Pike mentioned, “It was handy.”
This may seemingly be an odd reply for somebody so younger, however for Pike, she grew up in a musical household. Her mother, Joannie, and pa, Jefferson, each performed within the marching band at North Carolina State College.
Her dad performed the drums, and her mother performed the very same clarinet Heather has performed all these years.
The identical clarinet that Heather picked up seven years in the past was performed at Raider Stadium earlier than her mother, Joannie, graduated from Richmond Senior in 1989. That handy selection for Heather was packed away on the home, prepared for a second technology of clarinet gamers within the Pike household.
“We might have rented one, however the gentleman taking a look at my clarinet mentioned that is higher than what you may lease,” Joannie mentioned. “We simply wanted some new pads, and it was good as new. I suppose they don’t make them like they used to.”
The clarinet was twice the age of Heather, however many individuals say some issues age higher with time, and the clarinet handed on from mom to daughter was introduced again to life for a second likelihood to play the Raider combat track – louder and stronger.
Heather admitted it wasn’t her mother or dad that impressed her to hitch the band however moderately her older brother Johnny, a 2018 East Lincoln Excessive College graduate in Denver, N.C., who performed the French horn.
“I type of wished to take after my older brother as a result of he was within the marching band,” Heather mentioned. “I noticed him carry out and knew I wished to observe him in his footsteps and play on the identical subject.”
Heather mentioned being in highschool may be tough at instances, however the friendships she fashioned within the band room helped her discover her voice and a spot the place she belonged.
“It’s given me a protected house,” he mentioned. “For me, it’s a protected group of individuals the place I can simply categorical myself and be myself. Highschool may be very traumatic and overwhelming, however when I’m within the band room, I’m relaxed and calm if I’m having a foul day.”
Edwin Carter, the Director of Band at Richmond Senior Excessive College, has one rule for the band room: scholar musicians should go away their variations on the band room door.
“All of us look completely different, sound completely different, and consider various things,” he mentioned. “Once we carry out collectively, none of that issues as a result of everybody solely sees the band.”
Carter’s skill to unite individuals from all existence into one room has helped Pike and different college students bridge variations via music and forge new friendships.
“It simply offers me a way of self and belonging with individuals that may relate,” she mentioned about being round her fellow band members.
Heather mentioned band members have a lot in widespread and lots of the identical issues as younger highschool college students. The band room permits college students to have these robust conversations.
“They may take heed to my issues, and having one thing that easy can actually assist me get via my day,” she mentioned.
Heather credit Carter for uplifting his scholar musicians when nobody else will.
“He has lots of religion within the college students, even once they don’t think about themselves or no person else does,” she mentioned. “He’s all the time there to pay attention and provides recommendation once we want it. You couldn’t ask for something extra from a trainer or band director. Our success as an individual is his precedence. He’s very inspiring and exhibits that he actually cares about us as younger individuals, extra than simply one other scholar coming into class.”
Heather mentioned being within the band is much less standard than sports activities in highschool, and that may make band members invisible within the hallways.
“The band is usually neglected so much right here,” she mentioned. “I’m overshadowed by cheerleaders or soccer. That’s okay; being in a band isn’t a couple of reputation contest or a sport however about doing one thing we love, and that’s taking part in music. We don’t do it for the fanfare however for ourselves.”
Joannie mentioned watching her daughter develop as a musician has been particular as she sees herself in highschool utilizing music to beat related robust instances.
“I believe music offers you an edge,” she mentioned. “It’s an expression of emotions via your devices. There’s nothing prefer it. It’s actually laborious to clarify.”
When requested about watching her daughter carry out, Joannie mentioned, “It feels very nostalgic to observe her play.”
Heather mentioned the very best recommendation she might give a center college scholar studying to play an instrument for the primary time could be to don’t be fast to give up.
“If you happen to’re good at it, keep it up,” she mentioned. “If you happen to’re not good at it and nonetheless prefer it, keep it up. Simply don’t be afraid of adversity.”
Though her clarinet has been packed away for the bass clarinet for live performance band, this summer season, she will likely be stepping onto Jerry Richardson Stadium with the Pleasure of Niner Nation as a member of their marching band on the College of North Carolina at Charlotte whereas pursuing a level in electrical engineering.
As Heather adopted her mother and pa’s footsteps to play in a school marching band, one query remained unanswered. Will she pack her clarinet away for a 3rd technology of the Marching Raider Band?
“We should simply see,” she mentioned, smiling.