Eagle Valley's band leader hits right notes for kids

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Teaching music, whether it's preparing for a concert or a parade, is second nature to Larry Holloway, Eagle Valley Middle School's band director.

Holloway's day starts at 7:15 a.m. and students can typically find the doors to his cavernous room open until 5 p.m., and usually later if there is a home game or he is teaching a music lesson.

After 20 years of teaching music at Eagle Valley, Holloway was recently caught off guard when Sen. Richard Bryan stepped forward and presented him and the band with a senatorial recognition.

"That's the nice thing about it," Sen. Richard Bryan, D-Nev., said about his surprise commendation. "When you have someone with that much passion about teaching, it's nice to recognize that."

The award was presented on Nevada Day for the symphonic band's performance.

The band's 70 seventh- and eighth-graders played at a dedication ceremony for the new amphitheater theater in the Legislative Plaza.

"They (the symphonic band) are an exceptional group. You get groups of kids who are really talented and it just happens. I'm lucky," Holloway said.

"It's our first senatorial recognition and I was really surprised, so of course I didn't have anything much to say."

Earlier in the day, Holloway's marching band had taken first place in the parade's middle school category.

Both the marching and symphonic bands played "Silver and Sage," a piece written by Gardnerville-based composer John O'Neill, who also received senatorial recognition.

The piece was a challenge for the kids, but they rehearsed for six weeks, which included one hour each day at school and on average 30 minutes of daily practice at home.

The piece was modified for the 120-member marching band: the younger students played a simpler piece and older students played the complex version.

It was encouraging that when O'Neill listened to the rehearsals, he didn't suggest any major changes, Holloway said.

It was the Nevada Day Committee that asked O'Neill to compose a piece.

"When I knew it was Larry, I said 'yes,'" he said. "He is probably one of the finest and hardest-working music teachers in the area. And he has a good band."

As O'Neill listened to countless rehearsals, he said, he was happy with the quality of the performance. But he was delighted with the band's spirit.

"When you see kids having fun and playing like they like the music, that's spirit," he said.

For Bryan, the highlight was watching the students and parents interact with Holloway.

"He (Holloway) is just very terrific. What so impressed me, particularly when they were performing 'Silver and Sage,' was to see the parents of those kids react to Mr. Holloway," Bryan said. "Clearly Mr. Holloway has made a big difference in a lot of young people's lives."


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