Julie Bolme is giving back to the music program of Oakdale Joint Unified School District. Skills and passion she once learned from OJUSD music teachers, she will now pass on to the next generation of musicians.
It has been a decade since Bolme sat in band class at Fair Oaks Elementary School perfecting her flute skills. Now, she returns in a new and empowering role as the newly named Elementary Schools Band Teacher. Just three short months since completing her Bachelor’s Degree in Instrumental Music Education, from Fresno State, the newest staff member is more than thrilled to be back at OJUSD.
“It’s a little different because now I’m speaking to everyone on a first name basis,” Bolme said of her transition from a band kid, to a peer of the staff members at the school sites. She indicated that many of the teachers who once taught her are still working at the varying school sites she visits each week.
As the newly appointed Elementary Band Teacher, Bolme spends one day each week at the four elementary locations (Cloverland, Fair Oaks, Magnolia and Sierra View), with one ‘free’ day to assist Ric McGinnis with any high school or junior high music needs.
She teaches six classes each day at each site, ranging from beginning to advanced band.
“Anyone starting out on their first instrument are in beginning band,” Bolme stated. “I teach wind and percussion, we don’t have string instruments.
“I’m still trying to get school instruments into students’ hands,” the new teacher added of the number of interested students versus number of instruments available. “There are instruments at each of the campuses for me to use to help the students, but I’d rather get those in the hands of the students. I’m just taking inventory and then getting them into the right hands.”
There are close to 300 fifth and sixth grade students between the four campus sites, anxious to learn what Bolme was shown by her first teacher, Dave Cook, as a Fair Oaks fifth grader.
“I really enjoyed the way Mr. Cook taught the elementary classes,” the new teacher shared. “I don’t remember the exact curriculum, but I remember it always being fun. Seeing the high school band perform made me want to stay and continue with music. Whenever anyone asked me in college what I wanted to do, I always said teach elementary level band.
“I feel like I can talk to elementary school kids, better than high school kids,” she stated.
While Bolme is both excited and passionate about her newest assignment she is also challenged by the lack of instruments for her students.
“The lack of instruments is the most frustrating,” she said. “We don’t accept students into the class based on the number of instruments. It’s just however many students want to be involved in band.”
Currently, Bolme pairs the students awaiting instruments up with students who have been issued instruments so they may follow along.
“They’re bored,” she said. “They want to have an instrument. They want to play. I keep telling them to stick with it and keep coming. I don’t want them to give up. I just need to get the right instruments to each of the campuses.”
Bolme recognizes that for the majority of her beginners, this is the first time they have been exposed to notes and sheet music, noting that their first performance is in December.
“I want to motivate them to keep that in mind, because we only have so many practices but at the same time, I don’t want to scare them,” she admitted. “I want them to still have fun.”
With just a bit over six weeks under her belt since her first day on campus, Bolme shared she could not be more pleased with her career choice or the location it has started in.
“I love working with the students,” she shared, “and they love it. As far as I can tell, they love it. It’s the balance of getting work done and having fun at the same time.
“It’s band,” she continued, “how can it not be fun?”