By Ryan Channer ‘19
A freelance musician, student, band member, teacher, and artist, Ms.Laurel Stinson wears a lot of hi-hats. Ms.Stinson is a graduate student at Colorado State who does distance learning. The former band director of wind ensemble, Ms.Williams, suggested Ms.Stinson apply for the position. “Ms Williams and I knew each other from being musicians together. We played together in different ensembles. So when she knew she was going to have to leave New York, she immediately came to me and asked me if I would like to apply to the Midwood job, and I said, ‘of course. Absolutely.’ ”
Ms.Stinson does work outside of Midwood High School. “I’m a freelance musician outside of Midwood. I play in a brass band called Funkrust, where Ms.Williams also played. A typical gig would be playing at the Botanical Gardens, where we would be asked To play for three hours:7pm to 10pm.” She is a woodwind specialist, meaning she can play clarinet, oboe, bassoon, and all types of saxophones.
Before Midwood, Ms.Stinson worked in various places. She has taught band, chorus, and general music at the grand street campus in Williamsburg for the last four years. She also taught middle school, as well as band in her old high school, and worked in the wine industry. “After I graduated from college, it was so taxing being a music major that I was burnt out and I needed something else. So then I worked in the vineyards and realized, ‘Wow, this is boring’[Said emphatically] It’s the same monotonous routine every single day. There’s no surprises. I need surprises. I need a place that keeps me on my toes, and teaching definitely does.”
Ms.Stinson works overtime facilitating after-school activities for eager students. Alongside Mr.Jordan, she conducts doubles band Mondays and wednesdays.On Thursdays she runs the Jazz ensemble. On Tuesday, Mr.Jordan runs the Jazz ensemble and Ms.Stenson heads to Manhattan, with students, to assist the ISO wind symphony.
Ms. Stinson sees the Midwood band program as unique, “I think what’s cool about the Midwood band program is that we allow students who have never played an instrument before the opportunity to start in ninth grade, whereas other places in New York City, you don’t start in ninth grade or you don’t start at all. We also offer after school doubles band so students can return to their instrument, practice their music appreciation instruments, and for upperclassmen in band, learn a second instrument”.
Ms. Stinson is also a team player. The co-band director, Mr.Daniel Jordan expressed what it’s like working with Ms.Stinson. “I knew she was a capable teacher. We make a dynamic duo. We’re usually on the same page about everything, and we both enjoy bringing down the hammer.”
Mr. Jordan stated, “The immediate plans are to hopefully add marching band and expand. We’re looking to increase the amount of students, as well as get more instruments, and for that we would need more funding.”
Ms.Stinson shared her prospects for the Midwood Band program within the next two years.
“My goal for the Midwood Band program is to get as many students as possible participating in at least one band. We have about 500 students in total right now, but I think that number can be doubled within the next year, if handled correctly.”
Ms. Stinson is new to Midwood, but is proactive, hardworking, and happy to be here.