Pushing the boundaries of education
By Holly Neumann
Iola-Scandinavia High School Band Director Jacob Martin is proud of the five students who ventured off and started a rock band of their own.
Echo Watters, Kolden Krueger, Garrett Brown, Corey Ziemann and Erin Thompson call their band “Wilhelm.”
The rock/alternative band started last October.
“This group of students has shown that there is more to offer in music than just band and choir,” said Martin. “The rock band has already grown interest from several others to form their own in the future.”
Krueger credited Martin for getting them started.
“Mr. Martin wanted to do a rock band type deal as an extra thing through school. Once he got it all cleared, we were the guinea pigs, and it worked out,” he said.
“I become involved because the students had a goal to create a band,” said Martin. “They were really interested and eager to start something new. So we all sat down and talked about what needed to be done.”
Thompson, however, credited Ziemann for forming the band.
“He is exceptionally talented at learning music on over four different instruments just by hearing the music,” she said. “His and Kolden’s mutual love for music spurred them to talk to Mr. Martin about the possibility of having a band.”
Ziemann admits he tried to start a band before, but it never took off.
“Mr. Martin and I had talked about having a rock band class or something of the like,” he said. “We finally decided just to go for it.”
From there, Wilhelm was born.
Their first decision: deciding on a name.
“We were sitting in the band room, trying to think of a band name,” said Watters. “For some reason or another, after a long period of brainstorming, I thought to ask, ‘Mr. Martin, what’s your middle name?’ And that was it. It clicked.”
“To be honest, I was not the biggest fan of the band being named after my middle name,” said Martin. “I was just relieved that they finally did pick a name before their first performance.”
Wilhelm’s band members share a love of music.
“My favorite part about music is that it is a way to express who you are,” said Brown.
“Music is the word of the soul, or close to that,” said Krueger. “It is a great way to express feeling and is a genuinely good way to up your mood.”
While their influences come from all over, their goals are one in the same.
“I would like to continue this band into college,” said Ziemann. “I am hoping that someday, we have a good amount of success, but that seems more hopeful than reality based.”
“It’s really exciting to get things moving,” said Watters. “We’re planning events for parties, live-music shows, and we’re entering a music competition for an opportunity to play at Summerfest.”
“We want to really further our playlist and make our own music,” said Krueger.
They also agree there were some surprises along the way.
“I guess, at first we thought it would be easy, just come and go,” said Krueger. “But being able to play a song we love in a well-coordinated effort is harder than it looks.”
“Honestly, my biggest surprise was that we managed to actually play a performance,” said Thompson. “And we were able to do 15 minutes’ worth of music. That really impressed me.”
Ziemann’s biggest surprise was how easily he could learn to play the bass guitar.
“I had never played before this band,” he said. “Now I can easily play along to multiple songs.”
Martin is already looking to the future for his other students.
“I hope to continue to create a culture that it is fun and OK to start a band, start to learn how to use a sound or light board, learn how to advertise or even manage something,” he said. “Not only does being part of a band hone your musical skills, but it also creates a bond between people and is a great outlet for students. After-school projects like these are what continue to make school fun and exciting.”
Martin believes Wilhelm can make it as far as it wants to go.
“They have the talent. They just need to continue to push the boundaries of their comfortability and be willing to put themselves in the spotlight,” he said. “Trying to get into Summerfest will only be a stepping stone, if they continue.”
Martin believes all students at Iola-Scandinavia schools can achieve any goal that they have.
“They just have to be willing to put forward the effort and be willing to ask for guidance. These students have shown that they are willing to do both,” Martin said.