Stan Joines has been building character in young musicians as well as building the St. Croix Central High School marching band as the band’s director for 18 years.
When Joines joined the staff at Central there wasn’t a band.
“There was a proud tradition of having a band but it had broken down,” Joines says.
The band has had as many as 170 members and averages around 25. He built it back up with hard work, fundraising, grants for instruments and sometimes the help of other instructors.
Originally from Georgia, Joines graduated from Mercer University in Macon, Ga., and did his graduate work under band director William Revelli. Joines, who plays the trumpet, says a band director should play one instrument exceptionally well to take students to a different level.
“It is to show how to touch someones’ heart with music,” Joines says. “You’ve got to be able to put it in the air – someone gets it and says ‘Wow.’”
He says there is a lot of musical talent at Central. To tap into the talent with scholarships, the public schools need to have a music program in elementary school, Joines says. By the time students get in band and music classes in ninth grade it is too late to catch up and be eligible for scholarships, Joines says. He added a lot of the students don’t do too well on the SATs either.
Joines says the students play at every community charity event that asks for their performances. Joines works to instill in his students the desire to learn to be good citizens and give back to the community.
The marching band, chamber and jazz ensemble have performed as many as 120 events in a year, but average around 50 functions. They play everything from the University of the Virgin Islands commencement to Veterans Day ceremonies. The funds raised go back into the band, paying for transportation and other expenses. Joines raised $7,000 to take 25 band members to Washington D.C. for the inauguration parade in January.
The Jazz Ensemble played Dec. 13 on St. John at the annual St. John Christmas Music Festival. The band will march in the Crucian Christmas Festival Children’s Parade this year after giving it up years ago. Joines said in the past the students have stood around in the sun and heat for up to five hours waiting for the parade to start.
In preparations for the parade Joines raised money and purchased slightly used band uniforms from the high school in his hometown.
Joines will not allow students to go out and solicit cash, he added. That is for adults. What he does is have them do car washes and give a service for contributions. He shows them a strong work ethic.
“We do gigs as the Stan Joines Group and the kids learn hard work can put cash in your pocket,” Joines says. He joked about his “red Vitran,” the jeep he has shuttled kids half way across St. Croix in after events and practices.
He has a two-year-old son that he wants to spend more “daddy time” with now and he can’t be driving the “red vitran” up until Jeremiah’s bedtime after band practice.
Joines would like to see more participation and parental involvement in the future. Even parents giving their kids rides helps him out.
“At the end of the day I can’t imagine doing anything else,” Joines says. “This matters.”