I conducted a phone Interview with Ms. Andrea Newhouse, Co-Band and Orchestra Director at Seminole High School (SHS). Ms. Newhouse grew up in Sarasota, attended Stetson University and was an intern at Deland High School. Upon graduation, she taught at Highland Elementary for one year before signing on at SHS, where she is currently in her seventh year of teaching.
What makes the Pride of the Tribe so successful?
The kids. They know we have a job to do. I’m just up there waving my arms. Also, the band is a family. We grow, laugh, and cry together. It’s what the students give to the program that makes it a success. Also, the Band Leadership has to be mentioned. We tell the students what we need and they just do it!
What is the biggest challenge with this group?
Having a band that is so large, we have a wide range of students. We have anything from those that come to us playing a few notes to students that have made All-State. We try to keep them interested. Also, with the group being so big, there will be times that I haven’t talked to someone in awhile and have to ask “how are you?” to catch up.
What made you want to work at Seminole?
The position was posted and after interning at Deland H.S., I knew I wanted to work with a high school band. I interviewed and got it. The Orchestra had not been to MPA before I arrived, so I wanted to do that and we went my first year here. That was kind of my baby. The students need professional feedback that is gained through the MPA (Musical Performance Assessment) process and rating. This rating is given by professionals in the field. Most MPA judges have taught for years and they are the book of knowledge. Also, they (the judges) are very objective in what they are looking for and MPA is the musical equivalent of standardized testing.
What is Mr. Malcolm’s best quality?
His heart. I think a lot of the students don’t know how much he cares about them. He also has a good sense of humor.
What are your goals for the group?
I want every student to grow in some way throughout their year—whether it is musically or academically.
What is the best advice you got as a student?
Don’t let opportunities pass you by. As a high school student, I was sent an invitation to participate for free in a festival that was going on. Thinking it might be a joke, I asked my high school director if I should do it. The director said I should go for it! I did and I ended up playing with the London Symphony Orchestra at Stetson University. Also, (giving a bit of advice of her own) I would like to say to current high school students, “don’t take high school so seriously—and don’t get caught up in the gossip!”
Who was your best teacher and why?
My band director was great but left my senior year. Also, my junior English teacher. She wouldn’t accept mediocrity and she taught me how to write.
What makes a good musician?
Somebody that is willing to listen and put in the hard work [like in life]. Also, listening to recordings, others, and to put their nose to the ground and do the work.
What do you want students in your group to walk away with?
I would like them to be lifelong learners and I hope that they will appreciate all of the arts as they leave high school—going on to “play, sing, or dance.”
What is your favorite part of being a teacher?
Watching the students grow up through the years. I also appreciate when they stay in touch —letting me know what they are up to.