Former Bradley County native Patrick Langham revisited his roots this week as a musician-in-residence at Walker Valley High School.
“It’s like a homecoming for me,” Langham said. “Coming back to my hometown in Cleveland and doing something like this ... very easy decision.”
Langham graduated from Bradley Central High school. Afterward he attended the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and completed two degrees in jazz. Langham is now a jazz instructor at the University of the Pacific in California.
“He actually was a participant in this clinic when he was in the ninth through the 12th grade,” Alan Hunt, WVHS band director, said.
Since Hunt had Langham as a student when he attended Bradley Central, Hunt arranged for the jazz instructor to serve as a musician-in-residence at the school for Wednesday through Thursday.
This is the first time students have had such an opportunity to work with an outside musician for an extended period of time.
Langham had come to Bradley County to serve as a clinician for the 2013 All-East Tennessee Jazz Clinic originally scheduled for Friday and Saturday at WVHS.
Due to inclement weather in much of the region, the clinic has been postponed until Feb. 15 and 16, according to Hunt.
Langham will still serve as the director for the top band at the clinic.
The clinic is an auditioned event featuring the top high school student musicians in the region.
Langham said he enjoyed his time working with the students.
“I’m looking forward to being a little ray of encouragement (at the clinic),” he said.
The musician said participating in the clinic as a student “helped me grow musically.”
“When you’re around musicians who are your peers and you’ve all been chosen because of your abilities, it allows you to ... have a little encouragement ... and to grow because you are getting more direction from the director. You’re getting more music that is more challenging,” Langham said.
WVHS senior Clay Butler has enjoyed working with the Langham.
“He’s a very good director and teacher for jazz,” Butler said. “He definitely has a lot of patience. He’s very understanding.”
Butler said how Langham explains the music makes it easier to understand.
“He’s a great player. He sounds really awesome,” Butler said
Clinicians for the jazz clinic are chosen by band directors of the East Tennessee School Band and Orchestra Association.
“Usually the person who does the top band is someone of the college-instructor level,” Hunt said.
The jazz clinic divides students into three bands ranked by their expertise level as judged by their audition.
The blue band is ranked as best, red band second and white band third.
Butler said he auditioned in November and knew that day in which band he would be. Bulter said he was excited to find out he was in the blue band.
In addition to teaching the jazz class at WVHS this week, Langham worked one-on-one with students. He has also worked with students at Ocoee Middle School.
“It’s been a lot of fun. Some of them, it’s the first time they’ve really improvised at all,” Langham said.
Five students from WVHS and one from BCHS will participating in the clinic.
Walker Valley students John Burton, trumpet; Butler, tenor sax; Kyle Davidson, trombone and Kyle Newman, guitar, will be participating in the blue band.
WVHS student Nick Brumlow on the trumpet and BCHS student Seth Hall on the trombone will play for the white band.
Each band has about 20 students in it for a total of around 60 participants.