About 18 years ago, Mr. Christopher Jarvis moved from way down south in Texas to way up North, here to John Marshall High School in Minnesota. He came here to continue being a band teacher, and he was met with enthusiasm and a lot of support from the administration. When he came here, the band structure was a lot different than it is now. Instead of the marching band being a before and after school commitment, it was a class with 120 students all in the same room for a semester. The marching band didn’t just march at football games, they actually competed in marching competitions. They won many awards and many trophies that are still up in the band room. However, because all of first semester was dedicated to the marching band, the concert band had limited time to develop.
Then, there were budget cuts and one of the things that was cut, was the money for the marching band’s competitions. Now, Mr. Jarvis’s motto has always been, “When you get lemons, you make lemonade,” so he wasn’t one to give up on the band. He went to the district and decided to redo the entire band curriculum to try and accentuate the concert band instead of just focusing on the marching band. The structure ended up becoming the structure that the school district still uses today. After making this curriculum switch, many more kids signed up for band since it wasn’t as much of a commitment as the marching band curriculum was. Because the focus was more concert based, Mr. Jarvis could focus on actually teaching how to play the instrument and sounding good as a band, rather than just marching. The band eventually grew and became better and better as the years went on. “This structure established a real high level of excellence as performers,” Mr. Jarvis said. “I’m very proud of that.” The number of students who got into All State, and could go to college on their instrument also grew. He also created the Jazz Band, which was new and different to the district. Another large program that he created was Solo Ensemble, where students can perform solos or small ensembles and be awarded for it. This eventually moved up to Lakeville after being hosted at John Marshall for five years.
He didn’t just redo the entire subject of band though. He also bought the band a new inventory. He restocked and reorganized the music selection, categorizing it into Jazz Band, Concert Band, Solos, Small Ensembles, and every other category one could think of.
How good the band is, is directly related to how good the student leadership is. Mr. Jarvis set up a section leader program and the drum major program. These two programs involve the election of student leaders to either lead the instrument section, or to conduct the entire band during football games. He said he believed that student leadership is an important quality, especially in a band. He also set up a parent booster club and he claims they’re “a godsend to program…If I didn’t have the money, I found the money.”
His plans for after retirement include traveling throughout the United States, and through Europe, moving up to a house that is being built up west of Chanhassen, and hopefully playing french horn for a band or orchestra up in the Twin Cities, possibly the Minnesota Orchestra. He also has volunteered to teach seminars up at the U of M to future band directors. He hopes to continue to stay busy but on his own time.