By Ashley Na
At the end of August, Bonita Vista High School’s (BVH) Club Blue recieved a replacement director James Llamas.
“I had a really great high school band experience. I went to Mount Carmel High School and ever since fifth grade, I started getting involved in music. I enjoyed doing it and I was pretty good at it. I just kept going all the way through school and ended up deciding that I wanted to be a Band Director for my entire life,” Llamas said.
According to junior Color Guard member Diana Rodriguez, there are some changes in teaching styles. She mentioned the transition of the band director was abrupt but students are adjusting quickly.
“He definitely taught us to learn fast, respect the staff and each other. He taught us that we can either do a set once and do it perfectly, or we can do it twelve times and waste time,” Rodriguez said.
Llamas is also making sure everyone gets a chance to perform and reinforces that students help out each other. Sophomore and parade drum major Giovanna Castillo talks about how Llamas is trying to change the habits that Club Blue had formed.
“[Llamas] is focusing more on leadership. We used to have this tradition where rookies, the freshman, would take the equipment out, but now he’s integrating the entire Band to do all the jobs and not leaving the freshmen to do it,” Castillo said.
Not only does Llamas encourage leadership, but he also makes sure students have an opportunity to compete. For instance, Llamas helped Club Blue members prepare for the competition in Maytime Band Review, which was in National City, around the Sweetwater Union High School. It was held Oct.15 and Club Blue performed the song “Dauntless Battalion”.
“When he came, he brought back parade. I actually hugged him the first time I saw him, because I was just really, really happy that the parade was back,” Castillo said.
Some of the new things Club Blue as well as Color Guard are learning are the ending movements, specifically the fourth movement of their new show “Haunted.”Although Llamas already conducts and directs he hopes to extend his knowledge to help students.
“I never stop learning. I continue to attend conferences and workshops that help me improve as a teacher and a musician. I look forward to attend those workshops every year and continue to learn about the art of teaching,” Llamas said.
During the past years, Llamas contributed to diverse types of productions and currently still puts these together. One of his works include his first Grossmont production “Clue,” based on the board game. The most recent production he is working on is “Haunted,” which brought a high score at a competition the BVH color guard hosted, on Oct. 8 at San Yisidro High School.
“We were the only 4A Band that was there [at the competition]. In reality, there wasn’t anyone to compete against, but we did compare our scores, and we ended up between the 5A Band and the 3A Band,” Castillo said.
The numbers before A are determined by how many people a band has. Color guard members received a score of a 96 but because color guard hosted the competition, they did not get a trophy. As for Club Blue, they recently had a parade competition where they got to perform at the Maytime Band Review.
“It was really exciting because a lot of the rookies were able to finally see what they were working for all this time,” Rodriguez said.
Even though Llamas is still very new to this school, according to Llamas— the students and staff member are still very welcoming. Students are also taking time to learn faster and become familiarized with his teaching styles.
“It is a really great opportunity to work with a larger school with more students. It felt like I would be a great fit to make a difference in the program and help it become even better than it already is,” Llamas said.