Joiner hopes for music to catch on with students

  • Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Michael Quirk/Journal Scene Alston Middle School teacher Bradley Joiner practices the pentatonic scale with his sixth grade guitar class.

When Alston Middle School guitar and orchestra teacher Bradley Joiner moved from Michigan down to the Lowcountry he did not exactly get what he anticipated.

“It was a bit of a culture shock. I had idealized southern hospitality in my head but when I got down here I realized that other Northerners had already beaten me to the punch,” Joiner said with a laugh.

A native of Lake Orion, Mich. Joiner began playing music on a toy guitar as a toddler.

“I would just press what sounded good to me and that’s when I first knew I had an aptitude for it,” he said. “I started playing piano in the third grade and then took guitar lessons in the sixth grade. From then on I played every day.”

Joiner played guitar in church and in his free time, even recording music himself. In eighth grade he got a Mac Mini that he used to record on Garage Band. He would make beats on the computer, something he does to this day.

By the time he was 18, Joiner learned to play 12 instruments. To make new friends after moving school districts in the ninth grade he joined the band and picked up the bass. He went on to play in the community orchestra and in twelfth grade played with the prestigious Detroit Civic Orchestra.

Learning to play the bass earned him a scholarship to Wayne State University in Detroit. He studied instrumental music education and had an idea of what age group he wanted to teach.

“I always wanted to teach middle school. They’re old enough to reason with but don’t have all the drama that comes with high school,” he said. “It’s exciting because each day there’s a new thing with them.”

After his junior year he was itching to begin teaching and found an opportunity later that year. He attended a job fair at Michigan State University in East Lansing and applied for a job at Alston where after a short process he was hired.

“I always knew that I wanted to live by the ocean and after growing up in Michigan I wanted some warmer weather.”

Joiner was exasperated when talking about all the paperwork and training that goes along with becoming a teacher. The biggest adjustment to his new job was the fact that he teaches six different classes: separate guitar and orchestra classes for sixth, seventh and eighth grade classes.

“The painful part is planning six entirely different classes, but luckily I’ve been immersed in both so I can do both. It certainly keeps things interesting.”

The stress on fine arts in the district appeals to Joiner.

“(Fine arts) are still a priority in the district. It’s intrinsically credible rather than having to justify itself with other subjects like ‘Music is important because it helps kids with math.’”

Joiner said that he enjoys sharing his passion for music with the students and they can see he is genuine about the subjects he teaches. He also said the love he has for music is something that catches on with the kids.

“The creativity and passion are contagious,” he said. “Activities and projects will come to an end, but what I want to stick with them is that passion to be creative.”

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