Brandon Hokeness '18
Music education major from Okawville, Illinois
Oboe player with the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra
Co-founder and co-director of student band at St. Paul’s Lutheran School in Troy, Illinois
Performed in the McKendree concert band, wind ensemble, woodwind quintet, percussion ensemble, marching band, and tuba/euphonium ensemble
Member of Kappa Kappa Psi, National Honorary Band Fraternity
by Stephanie (Coartney) Dulaney '10
Music education major Brandon Hokeness ‘18 remembers what it was like to choose a college. He wanted a university that he says, “I’d be able to call home, and be proud to walk away with their name on my degree.” At McKendree, he found the perfect place to grow his musical talents and passion for teaching, all while making his college experience uniquely his own.
From helping to start and direct a local grade school band to playing with members of the St. Louis Symphony, Brandon took advantage of every opportunity to push the boundary of what he thought he could do at McKendree. He honed his performance skills and formed close friendships with his fellow music students on the Marching Bearcat Band, concert band, and many other ensembles. What he didn’t foresee was the important leadership experience he’d gain from being part of the music program.
"We get teaching experience you can’t replicate in a methods class. It's truly been an amazing learning opportunity for everybody, and it also doesn’t hurt that it’s a lot of fun and a rewarding experience."
This past fall, Brandon and other music education majors were invited to take the reins of a new band program at St. Paul’s Lutheran School in Troy, Illinois. The unique challenge not only gave them the chance to see how a school music department is run, but also to have a direct hand in it. Brandon was able to help with instrument try-out night, teach beginning sectionals, and run a full ensemble, all important components of the job he wants to land after graduation.
“The entire situation of working at St. Paul’s is a win-win,” he said. “Without us going to the school, the students wouldn’t have the opportunity to participate in band. For us, we get teaching experience you can’t replicate in a methods class. It’s truly been an amazing learning opportunity for everybody, and it also doesn’t hurt that it’s a lot of fun and a rewarding experience.”
Another unforgettable part of Brandon’s senior year was his selection to the prestigious St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra. Performing in a blind audition held on stage at Powell Hall, he impressed the directors with his strong talent on the oboe. His favorite part about being a member of the Youth Orchestra is the chance to work directly with world-renown musicians, whose professional experience is only overshadowed by their eagerness to share their passion with others.
"The amazing thing about working with these musicians is that they have a solution to fixing almost any musical problem. They’re also very familiar with the repertoire we’re performing and can teach us through their own experiences."
“The amazing thing about working with these musicians is that they have a solution to fixing almost any musical problem,” said Brandon. “They’re also very familiar with the repertoire we’re performing and can teach us through their own experiences. The most inspiring aspect of it is how down-to-earth they are. They’re happy to be teaching us, and it’s nice to remember that these professional musicians are real people who were sitting in similar seats not that long ago.”
For Brandon, the meaningful learning opportunities he’s gained as a McKendree student are all part of the personalized college experience he always wanted. That’s something he knows he’ll be proud of on graduation day.
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