Band opens the door to musical opportunities

  • Posted: Friday, May 30, 2014 12:01 a.m.
STAFF PHOTO BY DEDE BILES
A trombone  reflects members  of the  AAA Homeschool Band playing during a Memorial Day service on Monday at the Aiken County Veterans Memorial Park on Richland Avenue. The group is the Aiken Standard’s nonprofit of the week. See the story on page 2A.
STAFF PHOTO BY DEDE BILES A trombone reflects members of the AAA Homeschool Band playing during a Memorial Day service on Monday at the Aiken County Veterans Memorial Park on Richland Avenue. The group is the Aiken Standard’s nonprofit of the week. See the story on page 2A.

The AAA Homeschool Band didn’t get much time to relax over the recent Memorial Day weekend. The group made four appearances in three days at holiday events in Aiken and Orangeburg.

“We perform approximately 42 times each year,” said Barb Rollins, who is the ensemble’s director.

Rollins and her husband, Roger Rollins, founded the Homeschool Band in 1999.

“It just kind of fell in our laps,” said Barb Rollins, who has a master’s degree in instrumental music education from the University of Illinois.

The idea for the Homeschool Band developed over time. It got its start when a woman asked Rollins to teach her home-schooled son how to play the trumpet. The boy only had the use of one of his hands, but he was able to take lessons successfully.

That pupil and a Christian band camp that Rollins conducted led to other home-schooled students and their parents approaching her about instruction.

“It grew from there,” she said.

Today, the Homeschool Band has 26 student members. The group also is open to adults, and a few are performing with the ensemble.

“For many years, we had a man who was in his 70s,” Rollins said. “He came to all the classes, and he loved being around the kids.”

Fees charged to Homeschool Band participants fund the group. The cost is approximately $100 per year for each band member. Group lessons are $10. The students also can take private lessons from Rollins.

“I try to keep it as reasonable as possible,” she said. “This is basically a ministry for me instead of a business. It’s a passion – what I’m called to do – and I love every minute of it. I want to open doors of musical opportunities for the kids, and if I change a life or keep a child from going in the wrong direction, then I’ve fulfilled a purpose.”

Even though public schools now allow home-schooled students to participate in their bands, the Homeschool Band still remains popular.

“A lot of parents who do home schooling don’t want their kids to be in a public school setting,” Rollins said. “But some of the band students are choosing to go in the public school direction, and that’s great. If we become a feeder program for the public high school bands, then that’s fine. We want whatever is best for the students. They’re always welcome to come back and play with us.”

Many Homeschool Band members do well in regional and state competitions and auditions.

“In the last several years, all of our students who have tried out for the region band, all-state band or all-county band have made at least one of them,” Rollins said. “In the solo and ensemble auditions this past year, 100 percent of our students earned at least one medal.”

A $1,000 Homeschool Band scholarship is available to graduating seniors who plan to be involved in music during their first year of college. The group also offers summer band camp scholarships to members who earn the most points for demonstrating how well they’ve mastered what they’ve learned.

“This year we have two band camp scholarship winners,” Rollins said. “Sam Acevedo is going to a camp at Charleston Southern University, and Isaac Parks is going to a jazz camp at USC Aiken.”

For more information about the Homeschool Band, contact Rollins at 803-640-4689 or visit the group’s website: www.aaaband.org.

Dede Biles is a general assignment reporter for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since January 2013. A native of Concord, N.C., she is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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