jacksonville, florida – Most students in the Highlands Middle School band had never picked up an instrument until six months ago. After hours of practice, the band members sound like they’ve been practicing for years and are performing at festivals nationwide.
Band Director Moses Evans literally built the Highlands Middle School band program from scratch. From 0 students to 220 students playing musical instruments.
“When I got here, there was nothing here, really just cafeteria tables, no instruments,” Evans said.
evans, 2020 Jacksonville Image Award for Music Excellence Winners, was in a band throughout his school career. He was also a drum major in college.
He went to teach band at Highlands Middle School fresh out of college in the early 2000s, and that was the last time the school had a band program.
When he returned to middle school again in 2022, there was no band program and no other middle school band program near the Highlands on the North Side. I was thinking
“One of the first things I did was go to the cafeteria and sit at the table and try to recruit students,” he said.
One of the students Evans approached was Taya Lyles, now a percussionist.
“When he was describing instruments like percussion, you were moving around a lot instead of sitting still,” she said. “And I do that quite often.”
Eighth grader Zane Muhammed also hadn’t picked up an alto saxophone until last year.
“I got my own instrument for the first time in class, so the whole class tried to make a mouthpiece to make a sound,” she said. “It was hard.”
Donations from parents and school districts helped the band program get the instruments students needed.
“DCPS trusted our students and believed in our vision for the program,” says Evans.
Bands practice after school, during lunch, or during free time. Thanks to their hard work, the students have seen results.
“This program is rooted in love and driven by discipline. We just want the program to do something different,” Evans said.
The students and Evans are stunned at the band’s progress so far.
“We didn’t know how to play these songs,” Muhammad said.
“I didn’t think all of us would sound like this in a few months. We’re working on Level 2, so it’s just middle schoolers working on the high school level.” says Lyles.
Evans has now turned several intelligent students into talented musicians, sharing their talents and making the North Side proud.
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https://www.news4jax.com/news/local/2023/04/17/band-director-instrumental-in-reviving-program-at-northside-middle-school/ Band director who helped revive the program at Northside Middle School