By Rick Palsgrove
New Groveport Madison High School Band Director Jonah Hurtig’s path to a musical career began in his youth with the simple tapping of his fingers on a desk.
“My primary instrument is percussion, with more than a decade of piano performance, as well as a strength in brass, as a group of secondary instruments,” said Hurtig. “I always like to share that my road to percussion started with my teachers making complaints about a habit of tapping I had in class. With percussion I found a love for the unique ability that percussion has to incorporate difficult rhythmic figures along with the beautiful sound.”
Hurtig, who served as an assistant director at Groveport Madison for two years, began his work as the new band director after former band director Bart Pickenpaugh resigned in June for personal reasons.
Hurtig received his undergraduate degree in music education from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and he is currently working towards his masters in music education at Ohio University.
When asked if he planned to make any major changes to how the high school marching band, concert band, etc., function, he said his main priority is to allow for a smooth transition for the students, their parents, and the community.
“There are not going to be any significant changes made to the program, but we will make some minor adjustments,” said Hurtig. “Among them will be innovative changes to rehearsal techniques to improve rehearsal efficiency and effectiveness. My long term goal is not only to continue to give students the same opportunities, but to move forward to provide more opportunities into the future.”
He said this summer the band will work on its contest show, which will be a Queen-themed show.
“We will start rehearsal for our contest show at our first rehearsal after the band’s Fourth of July performance,” said Hurtig.
Hurtig said he is “very optimistic” about the upcoming marching and band competition season.
“We have a goal to do our best to continue to make OMEA state finals, but my main priority is for students to enjoy their time in marching band, show growth as musicians on their instruments, and to hold themselves to high standards in rehearsal and performance,” said Hurtig. “If all of these concepts are achieved, I do not doubt that we will be successful this season and make it to state finals again.”
Hurtig believes music is important to a student’s education.
He said he “genuinely supports and incorporates” the following quote by world-renowned cellist, Yo-Yo Ma, in his philosophy of education: “Music enhances the education of our children by helping them to make connections and broadening the depth with which they think and feel. If we are to hope for a society of culturally literate people, music must be a vital part of our children’s education.”
“Music is a way for students to express themselves, to build social connections, be creative, learn discipline, patience, teamwork, empathy, self-control, problem-solving, and learn to set small goals in search of achieving bigger longer-term goals,” said Hurtig.