New band leader fills gap at high school

Rick GunnRyan Rothchild directs Carson High's Blue Thunder band on Tuesday.

Rick GunnRyan Rothchild directs Carson High's Blue Thunder band on Tuesday.

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During the initial week of his first job as a high school band instructor, Ryan Rothchild had to lead his students through a homecoming pep assembly and then the halftime show of the football game the following day.

The next day, the band had to compete at McQueen High School in Reno.

"It was trial by fire," Rothchild said.

But the week also brought other firsts:

Carson High School's Blue Thunder Band brought home the first-place trophy at the marching band competition -- for the first time ever.

Although Rothchild was conducting, he gives the credit for the band's success to Larry Holloway, who is on leave while battling leukemia.

"Mr. Holloway has really infused a great deal of his own passion and musicianship into it," he said. "He took what he was given and has made a lot of improvements in leaps in bounds."

After four weeks on the job -- which sometimes feels like 10 years, he said -- Rothchild is gearing up for another first.

Carson High will host its first marching-band competition Friday, the Silver State Capital City Band Festival, to kick off Nevada Day weekend. The grand prize will be the Governor's Championship Trophy with 18 other smaller trophies to award.

As host, the Blue Thunder Band will not compete but will give an exhibition performance which will be judged, just not counted.

Still, Rothchild said the students are nervous about their performance.

"It can be a little nerve-wracking and uncomfortable, but at the same time, that nervous anxiety fuels their performance," he said. "It's the process of turning the energy of youth into a focused resource."

And Rothchild knows what it takes to be successful in high school band. He played the French horn for Carson High School. After graduating in 1997, he went to the University of Nevada, Reno, for two years where he played in the marching band and wind ensemble.

From there, he went to Westminster Choir College in New Jersey and graduated with a bachelor's degree last year.

He returned to Carson City to prepare to go back to school for a master's degree in psychology. His mother, Kathy Rothchild, a teacher at Fremont Elementary School, suggested he become a substitute teacher in the interim.

The day before Rothchild was to quit his job at Port of Subs and as a full-time substitute, Holloway called and said he would have to take more time off and asked Rothchild to step in.

Rothchild is balancing the job with acting classes in Reno, rehearsals for Western Nevada Community College's production of "Oklahoma" and serving as a worship leader for Capital Baptist, where his father is the pastor.

"By the grace of God, I am finding a balance," he said. "My saving grace is that I take time for myself to put myself in a good place spiritually, emotionally and physically."


What: Silver State Capital City Band Festival

When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday

Where: Carson High School football field

Cost: $5 for adults, Children 12 and under are free.


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