By Abigail Allen
By Ethan Smith
Pete Sampson has been the band director at Whiteland Community High School for quite a long time, teaching four different intra-curricular bands, and directing the Marching Warriors. When he isn’t directing, he’s either performing himself as a jazz musician with his band on the side, or spending time with his wife, Julie and twin boys, Luke and Conner. Music has always been a big factor in his day to day life. He grew up a musician and hopes to pass along what he’s learned to his students and his own children someday.
Question: How old were you when you first started playing music?
Sampson: I originally started playing music when I was five years old. My parents enrolled me in piano lessons and so I started doing that then, and then joined band in sixth grade, playing the tenor saxophone.
Question: What was the biggest obstacle you faced in your music career?
Sampson: I’ve always really enjoyed it, obviously. I think the biggest obstacle was, and I see this a lot with my students, when natural talent runs out and work has to begin, which is where you can play something or can attain something without much effort, and then at a certain point in your development, you kind of hit a wall and you actually have to start working a little bit harder, and I think every student runs into that at some point. For me, it was about my sophomore year of college and it’s a hard thing to realize that you actually have to start working.
Question: What is your philosophy when it comes to individual effort and group success?
Sampson: Well, band is a very interesting activity and one of the things I love about it is the fact that nobody is more or less important than anybody else and so especially when it comes to marching band, but even inside in all the indoor ensembles that we do, it takes literally everybody, and so if somebody is not working, then the person next door is going to suffer. And so, my biggest philosophy is that everyone has to do their part. No more, no less, but when somebody’s not doing their part, we have to lift them up because we’re only obviously as strong as everybody in our ensemble.
Question: You have a personal music career separate from teaching; how did that kick off?
Sampson: I play in a jazz band that has performances throughout the Indianapolis area. I don’t get to do it as often as I would like sometimes, with this being my primary position, but as anybody who teaches, especially teaches an activity such as band or, you know an art teacher teaches art, or a physical education teacher or a coach, you want to keep active in what you’re teaching. You want to learn and I know every time I play, I am learning myself.
Question: Tell me about your first time being hired to play somewhere, like with your jazz band.
Sampson: Any performance is nerve-wracking, and it should be, and I tell my students that. If you’re not nervous when you perform, you’re probably not excited for it.