Mr. Bankert conducting the Wind Ensemble. That's Liz with the bass.
Meet Tom. He grew up in a small town in Massachusetts, and has been playing the saxophone since fourth grade. You can find him hanging around the music department. Sounds like one of the band kids, right? Well, Tom isn’t exactly a band kid. He’s their boss. This year, Mr. Thomas Bankert came to Wakefield as the new head of the performing arts department. He teaches music theory classes and conducts the concert band, wind ensemble, marching band, and jazz ensemble. He has a busy schedule, but wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I don’t remember ever really wanting to be anything other than a musician of some kind,” Mr. Bankert told me. “Sometimes I wanted to be a teacher, sometimes I wanted to be a professional player, conductor of a Broadway orchestra, but it was always music of some kind.” Mr. Bankert decided his career path back in high school. At 16, he “started playing [jazz] in clubs and bars,” and his interest in music was encouraged by his band director, “a really good guy.”
“You could pretty much find everything in my iPod,” Mr. Bankert said. He has been a fan of jazz since high school. “I started with Miles Davis then listened to a lot of Joshua Redman,” Mr. Bankert said. “But my favorite bands growing up…I listened to a lot of grunge,” he said. “I listened to all types of music, but that was my favorite.”
So, what does Mr. Bankert REALLY think of the music program? He said with a smile, “The kids are good. There’s talent.” He continued, “The support in the administration and in the community is really good, and hopefully the program will grow while I’m here. My goal is to make this an experience everyone involved will remember for the rest of their lives.”
Our conversation ended with some advice. Mr. Bankert’s outlook on life is that, “there’s always gonna be bad things. You have to look through ‘em and always look forward.” He is one of the many looking forward to the future of the music department.