When the Rhea County High School marching band takes the field for the 2016 football season, they will be under the direction of a new leader as the school recently announced Gabriel Lajas was named the Rhea County High School Band Director, replacing Brad Denton.
Lajas comes to Evensville after spending the last three years in the same position at South Pittsburgh High School. He is a graduate of Walker Valley High School and earned both his Bachelor’s of Music Education (2010) and Masters in Trumpet Performance (2014) from Lee University.
He fell in love with music, and the trumpet in particular, at a young age and has developed his passion and talent into a well-polished piece of work.
“I started out playing music in the seventh-grade. I originally wanted to be a percussionist, but I already had a trumpet, so my parents steered me in that direction instead,” Lajas said.
Even through high school, he thought he was going to pursue a profession as an engineer until taking over a leadership role in senior year of high school where he realized his love for teaching younger students music.
“That really kind of changed my perspective and I decided to go from Tennessee Tech to Lee University and work on music rather than engineering,” he said.
With his extensive background and experience with the trumpet, Lajas plans to pay special attention to the trumpet section of the Eagle marching band. The new Rhea band director has hit the ground running with band camp and rehearsals and is already putting his touch on the program.
“Coming from South Pittsburg where the band program had 20 students and out here to Rhea County to a big program that is already well-established was an easy decision for me to make. I had a friend that teaches in the system here and as soon as she heard Mr. Denton was stepping down she immediately called and told me she had a job prospect for me,” Lajas said.
“When I took the job here I was told the kids would like to be more like Walker Valley’s band. They are one of the more entertaining bands around and of course I’m a graduate of the school, so I know their style pretty well, so we’re going to work towards that,” he added.
This year’s show is entitled “Hit The Dance Floor” and will feature plenty of upbeat music with popular tunes from artist such as Justin Timberlake, Taylor Swift and Bruno Mars, among others.
“We’re going to be doing things a lot different than they’ve been done in recent years, but our kids are excited, and I think everyone will enjoy these new changes this season,” Lajas said.
A founding member of the Southeast Trumpet Connection, Lajas was a semi-finalist for the National Trumpet Competition in the graduate division. In addition to his membership in the National Association for Music Education, the East Tennessee School Band and Orchestra Association, the International Trumpet Guild, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity, he also plays for his church, First Baptist of Cleveland, Tenn.
He currently resides in Cleveland, Tenn., with his wife, Tiffany, and the couple has two children, Isabella and Jaden. The Lajas family hopes to relocate to the Rhea County area within the coming months.
Christopher Hall can be contacted at email@example.com.