Blake’s New Jazz Band Teacher

Β A graduate of Paint Branch High School and a University of Maryland alum, Mr. Abel Solomon’s end goal was always to become a music teacher. Ideally he wanted to teach in Montgomery County, and fortunately for him, an opening at James Hubert Blake High School came as soon as he graduated.Β 

β€œI’m really glad and really fortunate that this spot [Jazz Director] opened up over here [Blake] so that I could come back and teach in my hometown,” he said. 

It wasn’t until he interviewed for the job that he met Mr. Eising, the director of the music department at Blake. He explains that he had friends who were former Blake alum who told him about the music department (specifically the Marching Band) and Mr. Eising. He says that he sort’ve knew what he was getting into because of his friends telling him about the vibes of the school the past couple of years, but says he didn’t meet either Mr. Eising or Mr. Gatlin (chorus director) until his interview in May. 

For any teacher, a transition into a new school is challenging. For someone who’s in his first official year of teaching, it’s even more so. He says that there was a lot of catching-up involved. This included getting to know the students and them being receptive to him and his personality, and learning the criteria before he could start to feel comfortable and ease into his new role. In the end, he says it was a β€œnice gelling experience” and that he β€œfeels more at home.” 

As for the band itself, Blake has a full-size jazz ensemble consisting of 17 students. They have already played at four events, which Mr. Solomon emphasizes because most schools only play two. Their music consists of β€œpretty medium to advanced repertoire.” He says that they’re fortunate to have played at different locations in the county and at Blake to showcase the level that they’re at. As the year has progressed, the students have grown accustomed to his philosophies and teaching. 

β€œI make it a big point of my teaching philosophy to not only teach each kid but to understand where they come from.” He says that it’s really important to make connections with each individual (know who they are, what they enjoy about their day, interests, etc). He also did a lot of activities (icebreakers) at the beginning of the year which has helped progress his relationships with the jazz and marching band. All of that has aided his ability to not only learn who the students are but also help him learn about the school/environment that they’ve come up in and β€œWhat sort of things have they expected and what can I do to help them.” All of that has led to a very positive relationship with a lot of his students. 

β€œMr. Solomon’s a really great teacher,” lead trumpet player Maurice Holmes said. β€œHe’s inspired me to play a lot better…and as the lead trumpet, he’s allowed me to go outside my box and do more challenges.” 

β€œA great teacher.” set player and senior Ben Willis stated. β€œHe’s filled in a slot that’s been open with the rotation of teachers and he’s done a really good job in his first year taking up the reins.” 

Tonight, the Blake Jazz Ensemble and the rest of the instrumental music department will have their annual winter concert to showcase their talents to the school, friends, and families in the amphitheater at 7:00 pm. 

Be sure to come out and support, because according to Mr. Solomon, β€œIt’s gonna be amazing!”