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To The Beat of the Drumline

The inspiring passion, promise, and student-directed learning at the heart of Boulder High School's Music Department

Article by Kelli Ruhl

Photography by Poppy + Co.

Originally published in Boulder Lifestyle

Of the myriad high-quality programs offered at Boulder High School (BHS), one program, in particular, is making a lot of noise, both in the community and around the world: the music program. 

Led by Director Beau Bryson, the BHS music program has developed into an impressive beacon of what a tight-knit community of student-directed passion and progression can accomplish.

In keeping with the general atmosphere of BHS, where students are free to pursue high-level classes in areas of personal interest, students within the music department can engage in classes that excite them, choosing from a series of top-tier options such as choir, orchestra, pep band, and jazz band. This freedom is part of what makes the program shine, and its classes are comprised of passionate musicians playing and growing within a strong, inclusive community of like-minded individuals.

One of the gems that have arisen out of the school’s music program is the BHS Drumline, comprised of students who came together to form a non-competitive, mobile band unit that plays events both in Boulder and around the world.

“They meet after school four times a week. They run it; they’re not being taught. They are their motivators and their boss," Bryson explains, who is understandably proud of the primarily student-led group. "I push them towards some events, but ultimately they choose. They’re a well-oiled machine that works hard.

"As far as the program goes, we have performed in Germany, Norway, New York, LA, Florida, and around Colorado at festivals like Mile High Jazz Fest and UNC Jazz Fest.”

“Joining drumline is one of the best decisions I have ever made,” says 11th grader Elise Burcham. “I have met some of my closest friends and have gained many leadership opportunities...there is an aspect of a close community where everyone can get to know one another.

"If I wasn't in drumline, I wouldn't have the friends I do and my life would definitely be affected. Drumline also allows me to have a fun, creative outlet aside from school where I am doing something I love. I have met people I look up to and I have learned how to be a leader...I couldn't imagine high school without it.”

When asked about how the music program has flourished, Bryson explains: “Many traditions have been here for 30 years, and have improved through trial-and-error. My predecessor, Dr. Tom Horst, fought hard to keep the program alive and to innovate.”

Out of everything his students have accomplished, Bryson is most proud of the community they’ve cultivated. 

“I’m proud that students can find a home within this program, and that they always have a group to fall back on.”

Looking forward Bryson explains, “Our goal as a department is to grow and to keep students engaged, regardless of their goals. If we have a robust program, we can cater to the students who want to go to Julliard as well as to students who just enjoy playing with their peers.”