Faculty Spotlight

Faculty Spotlight: Jeri Bannister

Happy Faculty Spotlight Friday! This week, meet music faculty member Jeri Bannister! Jeri teaches lessons at Artspace on all sorts of brass and woodwind instruments, and she also has extensive teaching experience in public schools, at Northfield Mt. Hermon and Bement.

How did you get into music?
My aunt and cousin were music teachers, my grandmother wanted to be a concert pianist and my father was an excellent tenor who loved to sing. In 3rd grade I took piano lessons from a former teacher at Ithaca College with whom my aunt had studied. In 4th grade there was a music test that all 4th grade students took and I received the highest music mark. Mr. Blank, the band teacher said I should take lessons and that since my older sister was playing trumpet, I should study clarinet. For marching band a trombone player was needed and I studied with an Eastman graduate. When a string program was begun at MACS, I elected to study cello.

Why do you make music? What do you love about it?
Music was always in my head and playing in band or orchestra became a social club since it was held all year. Also in band you had to maintain practice every day to keep your place in the every day band or orchestra rehearsal and were able to play the music at your once a week lesson in school. I was told early that I had musical talent and I loved practicing to make the score perfect. I did attend several NYSMA (New York State) sectionals and was rated on clarinet with an A in grade 6 music for State Finals. I also was selected for the Jr. High All State Band and the All State Senior Band. In Ireland with my relations I was asked to play with the Concord Brass Band on trombone. I usually take my mouthpiece with me, especially in Ireland, so when the director came off the outdoor stage to see if I would play trombone, I was ready. Music I play in here in America can be read/played in any country.

Do you have any favorite musical experiences or memories?
One terrible experience!! At one of my first piano recitals, I was so nervous that when I sat down at the piano for my solo, I had a big beta block. I had played this solo so many times I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t remember it! I began playing something and improvised the whole solo and then left the stage ready to walk out until the applause. I then realized I did OK!
For a POSITIVE experience: It’s very easy to include the memory of my coordinating a Franklin County Elementary Music Festival for 17 years. Included were 32 Elementary Schools with the best musicians chosen from 4-6 grades for a 120 student Elementary Band and an Elementary Chorus of over 120 choristers. Several music teachers were involved with 2 rehearsals and concert. 4 concert band charts were commissioned. The most famous were Andrew Balant, John Edmonson and Anne McGinity who wrote ‘The Mohawk Trail‘.

Any creative projects you’re working on currently, or that you’ve completed recently?
Since I was the founding member of the Pioneer Valley Brass who at its beginning were all members of the Pioneer Valley Symphony, I have arranged many charts for this ensemble. And I also arranged charts for my elementary bands and marching bands.
I’m working on adapting a pipe organ chart for concert band and expect it to be done by September.

What’s one thing you love doing besides making music?
Teaching music to dedicated students who are as interested as I am to be a part of this world-wide experience. The music does not have to be orchestral, concert band or any flavor. All music is worth every note!