Twelve years in music department leaves O’Donnell with great memories, learning experiences

Mr. O'Donnell plays his saxophone which is one of the instruments he teaches fifth through eighth-grade (photo by Cloe Tchilikidi).
Mr. O’Donnell plays his saxophone, which is one of the instruments he teaches fifth through eighth-grade (photo by Cloe Tchilikidi).

After twelve years teaching band at ASL, Mr. Jamie O’Donnell is moving on and won’t be back next year. He will still be in London next year but will change his focus from teaching to playing and composing music. He will also look after his three sons, two of which are newborn twins. He will no longer be a teacher for ASL but will teach private lessons to people.

Mr. O’Donnell’s first year was in 2004 and he has taught fifth through eighth graders woodwind instruments and directed the middle school jazz band.

“[I will remember ASL] as a wonderful school, where I met so many energetic, creative students,” Mr. O’Donnell said. “I’ve learned so much about teaching and about living from my colleagues. I’ll carry those lessons forever.”

One of his greatest memories of his time at ASL was his first fifth-grade spring concert. “I still find it amazing that young players can get it together from scratch and play a concert in about eight months.”

ASL has changed a large amount since Mr. O’Donnell first arrived and so has the world. Technology has exploded in this current era, especially since 2004, and has changed music tremendously. “I actually bought my first iPod two days after I started working here,” Mr. O’Donnell said. “For a music teacher, especially in jazz, it’s amazing that I can suggest music for a student and they can find it and listen to it immediately, I used to spend weeks looking for a certain John Coltrane recording on vinyl.”

This technology has made many things in music much simpler, especially creating music. When Mr. O’Donnell first came to ASL there was no GarageBand, and that is something music students have at their fingertips to help make music.

“The [music] program has improved year on year,” Mr. O’Donnell said. “The technical standard of our students is much higher and we have more students attending Honor bands and music colleges.” In addition, Mr. O’Donnell said that there are more ensembles than there used to be and students can play with local groups.

Mr. O’Donnell has decided to move on from teaching at ASL because it was never a full-time job for him. He has decided to devote more time to his playing instead.

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