Stampede leader: Hinkle enjoying role at Colorado Mesa University
Jonathan Hinkle making musical mark with mavS
Feel free to tap your toe as you read along ... you’ll see why soon enough.
Inside a rehearsal hall lit up by sunlight bouncing off snow piled up outside, Jonathan Hinkle leads 32 Colorado Mesa University musicians through a ragtime classic, “Old Town.”
Which means nothing, of course, until you append the lead-in, “There’ll be a hot time in the ...”
Now the toe starts to twitch and the familiar tune buzzes between the ears.
Just not outside them yet.
Hinkle leads the group through the notes slowly, at maybe 2-4 time and it sort of sounds as though it might be a tune you’ve heard before.
If you can’t keep up, Hinkle tells his students, don’t worry — you’ll speed up soon enough.
Hinkle flips on a recording of Theodore August Metz’ possibly biggest-ever hit, blasted out at something like 6-4 time, maybe 7, to give the idea of just how Hinkle wants audience eardrums to vibrate.
The idea is speed and precision and this practice session with the pep band, now known as the Maverick Sound, is only the beginning of Hinkle’s effort to achieve both.
Hinkle’s next task is to take musicians from the Sound, and more, to form a marching band, possibly the first in school history.
To be sure, the Mavericks have had bands that played outside and it might be that somewhere back in school history there has been a Maverick marching band, Hinkle concedes, but now he’s in charge of forming the Maverick Stampede.
Whatever the history, the band that will march on the artificial turf of nearby Stocker Stadium this fall will be “for sure the first marching band at CMU,” he said.
Hinkle, 33, took on the job of marching band director, and the task of building a marching-band tradition at Colorado Mesa University, in 2012, moving to the high desert of western Colorado from Florida State University.
The marching-band aspect of the move was natural.
Hinkle became involved in his high school marching band “and it changed my life,” he said.
Band took him to college and beyond. After graduation, he was for five years the band and orchestra director at high schools in Florida, earning national recognition for his marching bands, concert bands, jazz bands and string orchestras.
He returned to Florida State for his master’s degree and directed the Seminole Swing Machine before earning his Ph.D. in music education.
From there, Hinkle went west, across the Rockies, to Colorado Mesa University.
“He brought a lot of fun to the rehearsals,” said Hans Snell, a freshman clarinet player from Fruita Monument High School. “He has a lot of fun and yet he is able to maintain a sense of responsibility. You can see how excited he is to be here.”
It was the possibility of playing as a new marching band strides onto the field that drew Snell to Colorado Mesa University.
(How does that go? “Seventy-six trombones led the big parade” ... and you thought you’d get through a story about a guy trying to build a marching band from scratch in a far-flung part of the world without so much as a tip of the baton, and/or gratuitous reference, to Professor Harold Hill? Ye Gods!)
Hinkle, however, has something that Harold Hill did not.
It’s no accident that just as CMU is rebuilding its football program, Hinkle is constructing the marching band and he’s hoping that gridiron victories will pump up interest in the marching band.
To be sure, “It helps if the football team is playing well,” Hinkle said.
At the same time, a good band can contribute to that by firing up the crowd, and thus the home team, he said.
Still, it’s really all about the crowd, Hinkle said.
While he likes all kinds of music, “I feel very strongly about playing music that audience members will recognize,” he said.
The Maverick Stampede will make its mark, he said, but it’s not intended to appeal to music majors only. All students are eligible to participate and there will be scholarships, but the key is entertainment and involvement.
“We’ll put on a show, lots of music and movement,” Hinkle said, “But it’s not competitive.”
“Not competitive,” however, doesn’t mean not committed.
Marching-band members will work hard to master the knack of marching and playing, Hinkle said.
“It’s fun,” he said, “to be good.”