Jill Stara Plays Proud Part in WSC’s Musical Team
If you happen to be strolling through the Peterson Fine Arts Building and hear the sound of a flawless trumpet blaring from the basement, it could be Jill Stara.
Jill is a senior from David City, Neb., majoring in K-12 music education at Wayne State College. Ever since second grade, when Jill’s teacher told her she wanted Jill to perform a solo in the school Christmas concert, Jill has harbored a passion for music. Her love of music continued to grow when she picked up the trumpet to play in her sixth grade band.
“I chose the trumpet because I could make a sound on it on the first day,” Jill said. “I loved the one-staff music with the trumpet, which was also an incentive.”
Even after high school, Jill never stopped playing. At WSC, she plays in the marching band and wind ensemble as section leader, jazz band, brass quintet, show choir and the Crazy Eight Band, which is a faculty jazz band on campus. In past years, Jill has also played in the pep band and sung in Madrigals and choir. However, Jill’s favorite musical memories seem to always occur in marching band.
“Marching band every year is a new adventure. You gain and lose kids every year. Marching band is just a big family. It’s been my biggest influence,” Jill said. “It’s so different, and it’s almost like being on a sports team because we are a team.”
Dr. David Bohnert, who has served as the director of bands at WSC for 15 years, first met Jill when he conducted her in a high school honor band. Bohnert also teaches Jill trumpet lessons, working one-on-one with her each week, and performs with her in the Crazy Eight Band.
“Jill is a very good trumpet player, singer and pianist,” Bohnert said. “She’s very conscientious and committed to excellence. If she doesn’t feel like she’s doing something well enough, she comes to talk to me.”
Bohnert also said that Jill displays great leadership in her musical groups, encouraging others to do their best. With such a likable personality, Jill’s peers tend to gravitate toward her as a friend and leader.
“People just respond to Jill,” Bohnert said. “She’s very good at working with people. She’s a colleague, not conceited or thinks she’s above others. She’s also really good about communicating with me for ideas in marching band. She’s very creative and comes up with unique ways to teach others.”
In addition to her musical activities, Jill is a member of Cardinal Key, Philomathean President’s Honorary Society, Kappa Kappa Psi and the Newman Center. She also enjoys giving piano lessons and playing sports. Recently, Jill and three of her WSC peers attended the National Collegiate Honors Council in Boston, a conference with about 200 college students who display posters depicting their honors project topics.
“The trip was definitely a success,” Jill said. “My poster showed my research of comparing and contrasting three successful disciplinary strategies used throughout the country today. Some people who asked me about my poster knew very little about teaching and asked basic questions about how these methods work. Other people who stopped by my poster were going into education and asked more specific questions. All reactions and feedback I got were positive. The conference was a great way for me to practice the different professional skills that Wayne State College has provided me.”
After graduating, Jill plans to teach band and choir at a small school and hopes to eventually move up to a Class B school. Until then, Jill continues to attribute her successes to the WSC music department.
“Wayne State is a gem. I’m really impressed, especially with the faculty and the standards they set for their students, and they really help us achieve them,” Jill said. “Everyone’s given the chance to stand out. No one is lost in the numbers, even in marching band. Everyone is given the opportunity to be heard.”
Bohnert said that the greatest asset to the music department is the people in it; the positive attitudes, excitement and collaboration among the faculty permeates down to the student level. Bohnert also said that there are many opportunities available in the department for students willing to share their musical talents and interests.
“We really do try to make a place for everybody,” Bohnert said. “Our function is not only for music majors, but for campus inclusion. One of my primary goals with the marching band is to include everyone on campus and get them to work for a common goal. Socially, it’s a great opportunity for people to get involved and network. If people enjoyed music in high school, there’s no reason they should stop.”
In other words, at Wayne State College, it’s OK to jump on the bandwagon.
“Music isn’t something you will ever lose,” Jill said. “Music is with you until the very end.”