Brandon Larsen, Herriman High School
“Please consider Brandon Larsen for recognition as an outstanding teacher. Mr. Larsen is the Director of Bands and teaches music at Herriman High School in the Jordan School District. He has influenced thousands of students to achieve more than they expected from themselves during his tenure at Herriman. Mr. Larsen seeks perfection from his students and bands, he strives to help every student become the best musician, marcher, and team member, but he knows that success is not only measured by scores received in competition. He is building young men and women of character, not just a winning band program. He measures success by the lives of his students far more than he does by how they perform at any given competition or festival.
In my observation, Mr. Larsen teaches his students respect, more than any other attribute. Under his direction, they learn respect for authority, respect for their peers, and respect for themselves. When Mr. Larsen addresses a noisy room filled with students with the single word, “Baaaaand?”, all talking and movement cease immediately, and in unison all the students reply: “YES” and await his direction or announcement. I have been working with young people for decades and I have never seen a leader who can command such a healthy respect for authority that is maintained without harshness , bribery, or coercion. The students seem to truly respect Mr. Larsen and want to listen to his counsel and direction. In addition to respecting their adult leaders and staff members, I see how much respect these students have for one another. Band members are looking out for one another, finding ways to be helpful and supportive. Having been taught that a band is only as strong as its weakest link, student leaders and band members are always trying to lift one another in a positive manner. This respect for peers doesn’t stop at the school boundary line; the Herriman High School band has a reputation for being kind and supportive to their peers in other bands at competitions. They cheer enthusiastically for their competitors, shouting: “Herriman loves Bingham (or any school about to perform)”. This respect for competitors goes beyond mere words or cheers, as Herriman band members have been known to perform acts of kindness and service to their competitors, like loaning an instrument to a school in need at a competition. Band members are also taught and shown their worth. Mr. Larsen reinforces that every member of the band is valuable as an individual and as part of the team. He takes one-on-one time to help students who are struggling with band, with school work from other classes, or with personal issues. He is very busy, but never too busy to help one of his students in need.
Mr. Larsen empowers the student leadership to run the day to day activities of the band. He gives direction to the leadership counsel and watches quietly as they implement the plans among their peers. The students listen and take direction from their elected leaders without unnecessary questions or complaints. From experience, I know how difficult this type of youth-led effort is to achieve and it is so refreshing to see it run so smoothly in the Herriman Band. Last month we attended the annual Christmas Concert. The concert was run entirely by the students and Mr. Larsen only spoke after the last band had finished their performance. His only message to the audience was to recognize the successes of the bands who had performed and to highlight individual members who had been selected to participate in All-State and Honor Bands.
When my son was considering joining the Marching Band as a freshman, we were concerned that he would not be able to commit the large amount of practice and competition time required and still maintain his grades. We approached Mr. Larsen with our concerns. He showed us that students in the Marching Band receive higher grade point averages and more academic success than students not in the band. He requires that all students in the Marching Band attend a study hall session before rehearsal each day for an hour and 20 minutes to make sure that they are all able to get their assignments completed for other classes. He and his staff members roam through the students, making sure they are being productive and helping them with their homework when they are struggling. I asked my son about an essay he was having a hard time with. He said that Mr. Larsen sat down with him and helped him get it right and ready to be turned in.
In conclusion, Mr. Larsen is among the finest educators, leaders, and mentors that my son has had the opportunity to interact with. He and all his friends are better for having Mr. Larsen as a part of their life. He is worthy of the highest accolades and awards that we can bestow upon educators in the state of Utah. Here are a few career highlights for Mr. Larsen:
Utah State University – Educational Leadership Endorsement
University of Michigan – Masters of Music Education
Southern Utah University – Bachelors of Science in Music Education
Herriman High School – Director of Bands July 2016 – Present
● Grew program from 40 to over 200 (just in band) the band program continues to grow through split.
● Performing Arts Department Head
● State Marching Band Championship
● Superior Rating for All Ensembles
● Largest Band in Jordan School District
● Started Herriman High School’s own Oquirrh Mountain Band Invitational
● Raised money for new marching band uniforms
Fremont High School – Director of Instrumental Music July 2015 – July 2016
● Taught orchestra, guitar and band.
● Grew program from 30 to 70.
Grantsville High School and Middle School – Director of Music July 2012 – July 2015
● Grew more than doubled participation in music programs.
● State Marching Band Championship.
● Superior Ratings at Region and State Festivals
● Member of school turnaround team
● Fine Arts Department Head
● Key Club Advisor
North Sevier High School and Middle School – Director of Performing Arts – July 2011 – July 2012
● Grew Program from 40 students in the entire program (drama, choir and band) to 110 Students with a school population of 200.
● Participated in hiring new teachers.
● Student Government Advisor
Reserch & Conference Presentation
● Utah Music Educators Association Conference Poster session St. George,
Utah– LGBTQ+ Music Educators– 2018
● Utah Music Educators Association Conference Presentation St. George,
Utah– Music Theory In the Ensemble Setting– 2018
● Utah Music Educators Association Conference Presentation St. George,
Utah– The benefits and challenges of school-university partnerships-2018
● Instrumental Music Teacher Educators Conference Presentation Cleveland,
Ohio– The benefits and challenges of school-university partnerships-2019
● Utah Music Educators Association Conference Presentation St. George
Utah– LGBTQ+ Music Educators and Students, How Can We Help?–2021
● National Association For Music Education Conference Presentation Orlando,
Florida– The benefits and challenges of school-university partnerships-2021
● Grantsville High School Teacher of the year
● KUTV Friday Nights Lights Teacher of the Week
● Region 3 Music Educator of the Year
● Finalist for Utah High School Activities Association Music Teacher of the Year
● Crystal Apple Award for Teaching Excellence 2020-2021
He has taught approximately 3,000 students throughout his career.”
Nominated by Randall Wardle.
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