The band prepares for the concert and warms up before the performance on December 12, 2022. (Nathaniel Janssen)
The band prepares for the concert and warms up before the performance on December 12, 2022.

Nathaniel Janssen

New Era of Eagle Band

January 12, 2023

Mitchell Schotzko adjusts his mouthpiece to be in tune for the concert, December 12, 2022. (Nathaniel Janssen)

Senior Mitchell Schotzko has been a member of New Ulm High School Band since his freshman year (2019-2020) and has been involved with music in general for even longer. Schotzko has played under several band directors and has seen many changes in the music department during his years as an NUHS Band member; from pre-pandemic activities, to distance-learning band, to post-pandemic activities, Schotzko has seen it all. “The changes in band were kind of strange. We were still able to play, because our band room was big enough for all of us to spread out, and we were able to work through the pandemic that way. With the change in leadership that’s come in this year, the music department has been completely retooled from the ground up and I expect more sweeping changes to be coming in the near future,” Schotzko stated about the changes he has seen. Although there have been many changes within the last few years, Schotzko, fellow student-musicians, and the music department are all optimistic about this new era of the New Ulm High School Band.


The New Ulm Eagle Jazz Band takes the stage at the Winter Concert on December 12, 2022. (Nathaniel Janssen)

The last four years have been a turbulent time for the music department at the high school, especially for the high school band. Along with all of the changes brought by the pandemic and several staff changes, the band has seen declining membership for the last several years. When asked about the membership drop, Schotzko shared, “The pandemic took a toll on the band’s numbers and I don’t know if it’s more because of post-pandemic effects or just a lack of interest.” Although the membership decline has been concerning for many members, both the concert and jazz bands saw a rise in membership this year. “This is the start of a new era of music at the high school,” the new choir director Mr. Olson announced to start off the recent Winter concert on December 12, 2022. Olson’s words reflect the optimism for the future of music at the high school. Although the last few years have been really hard on the program, the numbers are trending upward and signal the return of a large band program. The new staff members Ms. Keister (Instrumental Music) and Mr. Olson (Vocal Music) are ready to revive the music program at the school.

Music classes have always been an integral part of the high school experience and culture. Along with creating a home for students to develop musical talents, music classes build school spirit and pride and allow for a breath of fresh air from typical core classes. “Band is my escape from other classes, something I can dig deep into and ignore the world for a time while working to master a craft I’ve fallen in love with,” Schotzko proclaims. When asked about what he would say to a student on the fence about joining band, Schotzko said, “I think the best reason to join band is that it instills values like persistence, passion, self-improvement, and the ability to work as a team. Band is also a lot of fun. A lot of my closest friends in school are bandmates.” Although he finds band fun, Schotzko made clear that members cannot expect to be lazy in the class: “Be prepared to work. Band is not hard if you put the work in, it is really fun.” Schotzko and his fellow band members as well as the music department staff at the high school are all extremely excited to usher in a new era of band, and they hope to rebuild a robust program that will stay strong for years to come.

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