Music in Our Schools Month Profile: Anthem Smith

The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) has designated March as Music in Our Schools Month. To celebrate, the jsquared music performance center will be highlighting people who played instruments in grade school and the impact it made on their lives. Today, we will highlight Anthem Smith, a band director in Petersburg, VA. 

Anthem Smith

What instruments do you play?

Tuba, Tenor Saxophone, Alto Saxophone, Baritone, Trombone, Trumpet, Percussion, Piano

At what age did you begin playing your first instrument?

9

Why did you start playing?

My mom is a music instructor, so ever since I can remember I was around her bands and loved music. Playing an instrument was destiny for me. 

What was your experience with music during your elementary, middle and high school years?

My very first experience with music was taking piano lessons as a small child at one of my mom's friends, Ms. Geraldine Boone's, home. A few years later my mom bought me a saxophone when I was 9 and I took private lessons with professor James Hester at NSU after school. I always received high marks in music class in elementary school. I played string bass in the orchestra and made all city my 5th grade year. In middle school, I played alto saxophone in the concert band until 7th grade. In 7th grade my director, Mr. Donald Spruill (RIP) needed a tuba player, and my mom recommended he train me to play it. I played tuba from 7th grade until my senior year in college. In high school I played tuba in the concert and marching band, where I was section leader. I also made all district band on tuba. I performed with the Norfolk All City Jazz Ensemble on the tenor saxophone from 9th to 12 grade. My senior year I also took AP Music Theory and began to arrange for my marching band. 

Who was your favorite music teacher? What made them your favorite?

I don't have a single favorite so I will shout out them all. All my band directors and music teachers, Mr. Spruill, Mr. Williams, Mr. Daley, Mr. Krieselman and Mr. Featherer. They all taught me countless things about music and about being a better student and person. My most influential music teacher never officially taught me at all, and that was my mom. She was a public school band director for over 30 years and now works at NSU. Her musical lessons came more subtlety and I can always count on her for advice today, as I continue my growth as a band director. 

What is your favorite band memory from grade school?

Most definitely Friday night with the marching band and our Jazz Band trip to Atlanta. 

Did you play an instrument in college? Did music impact your college choice?

I played tuba with the Norfolk State University Spartan "Legion" Marching Band. Music was the reason I went to NSU. I had loved the Legion all my life up until that point and always knew I would end up there. Band was the best reason about undergrad and I made friends that eventually became my family, all thanks to music. 

What is your current occupation?

I am currently a band director in Petersburg, VA. I am the head director of bands at Vernon Johns Junior High. I am also the assistant head director of bands and chief arranger at Petersburg High School under Clyde Boswell. 

How has music helped you in your current occupation?

Music is my profession. I love introducing music to my students and helping them grow into fine musicians through concert and marching band. It's very rewarding when you see a child get better and better from month to month and year to year.

How has music played a part in your adult life?

Music is my life. I would be lost without it. I'll love it forever. 

What advice do you have for young musicians?

My advice to young musicians is to never stop exploring your instrument and other instruments. Also, always remember music is art and should always be fun. Never take it too serious, but, don't take it as a joke. 

Be on the lookout for anything related to the Petersburg High School Marching Band and the Vernon Johns Junior High School Band as well. 

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