By Anna Adams, Writer
Most people know Mr. Newsome as the upbeat New Paltz High School band director who always has a smile on his face. You may know that his primary instrument is the trombone or that he plays music gigs outside of school; but what don’t you know about him?
Mr. Newsome sat facing the empty auditorium with his back to the crowded stage, looking as if there was no place he’d rather be. His crowded carts sat on the stage behind him, filled with memories from his past, his eyes gleaming as he talked about his first experience performing music in 8th grade. Newsome spoke about the blue shirt and khaki pants he was forced to wear while performing on a stage he’d never been on, with people he had never talked to, playing music he’d barely even looked at. Since his first, intimidating experience on stage, Newsome has played a countless number of gigs, varying greatly in venue and audience and even in the music he’s played. However, the grandiosity of the stage or the classiness of his outfit is not what’s important in the performance, according to Newsome.
“The most important thing for music is that it has to be real,” he begins, going on to say that he doesn’t care about dressing up in suits and ties for fancy performances. He will show up to his performances in whatever clothes he likes, and ignore any stares from dolled up audience members in their elegant dresses and suits and ties. Everyone at these performances are there for the same reason: for the music- why should they care about dressing up?
“The most important thing for music is that it has to be real,”Mr. Newsome
Newsome’s first teaching job was at Hyde Park where he taught middle school general music, high school piano, and sixth through eighth grade band for eight years.
“Students at that age are primed for explosive growth,” Newsome responds when asked what he liked about that age group, “Especially the sixth graders.” This answer, then begs the question: if he enjoyed teaching middle schoolers so much, why is Mr. Newsome a high school teacher?
“High schoolers perform with a lot more passion,” he says, “You can make an even more interesting product.” But high schoolers are a lot harder to teach, aren’t they? Stereotypes say that teenagers are louder and think they’re too good to be in school or already know everything they need to know. Mr. Newsome has another view however.
“Conducting a high school band is like training a dog, it wants to do the right thing, it just doesn’t know how.” Newsome has extensive knowledge of both teaching highschoolers and training dogs, having two dogs himself- poodles, named Shelby and Sona. Music bleeds into every aspect of Newsome’s life, even having his dog Sona being named after the musical term “sonare.”
“Poodles are almost a cross between a cat and a dog,” he says, smiling. He is not alone in his connection, according to many poodle lovers across the internet poodles and cats have a lot in common.
Aside from being a father of two poodles, one of Mr. Newsome’s most notable characteristics is his passion for music that can be seen throughout his life.
Even working in customer service, Newsome was still finding ways to make music. “It’s important for everybody to work in customer service of some sort,” he says after talking about all the job’s he’s had. While working at Sears selling TVs, he figured out how to play songs on the TVs, by tapping them. After working in retail for far too long, he took a job at a music shop fixing instruments.
The skills he learned while fixing musical instruments and while working in customer service translated into the skills he needed to teach music to high school and middle school students.
“The nice thing about working with those students is that you can engineer the future,” Newsome says with an ever-present smile on his face.
On and offstage, Newsome is always smiling. Watching Mr. Newsome direct the band is a performance in and of itself, as he dances around the stage. His song choices make the parents in the audience laugh and the groups of students he puts together never fail to impress.
“I’m not just a music teacher, I’m a musician” he says, after talking about all the instruments he plays. Newsome began his years at SUNY Fredonia chasing a major in Trombone Performance. Because of the amazing music teachers and tutors he had leading up to college, he didn’t know if he could ever live up to them. Fortunately for the New Paltz High School Band he added a music education major.
One of Mr. Newsome’s many talents include playing every single instrument in concert band excluding double reed instruments. He has taught all of them including the piano. And best of all, he has professionally gigged every brass instrument.