Defying Statistics: The Journey of a College Graduate

Various job markets have become increasingly saturated throughout the last decade, and competition between college graduates for suitable employment is on the rise. Because of the high stakes after graduation, networking and ambition are advantageous qualities in both the college student and graduate alike.

Key findings in a 2019 study from the Economic Policy Institute found that fewer than 20% or one-fifth of young adults ages 21-24 have a bachelor’s degree. Even more so, approximately 53% of those that do graduate programs are unemployed or working in a job that doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree according to the University of Washington. Realistically, most young graduates are not getting hired for the job of their dreams right out of college.

Jacob Weinstein, however, defies the statistics. In May 2019, Weinstein graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Music in Music Education. At UGA, he was a member of the Georgia Redcoat Marching Band and also played in the Hodgson Wind Ensemble. Weinstein was hired to be Temple High School’s Director of Bands in February 2019, before he even walked the stage to claim his hard-earned diploma. But how did he do it?

The passion for music all started with his mother, Karen Weinstein, who was a clarinet player for the Forest Park Senior High School Marching Band in the early to mid-1970s.

“When I was growing up she used to play records for me of her high school’s band, so I grew up listening to Second Suite, First Suite, Sousa marches, Giannini Symphony, Hammersmith Prelude and all these cornerstone band works that my mom was playing clarinet in, and I thought it was the coolest thing ever and wanted to do that,” says Weinstein.

And, that he did. Weinstein started learning to play the french horn in fifth grade at George Walton Academy, a college preparatory school for pre-k through twelfth graders located in Monroe, GA. The George Walton Academy Marching Bulldog Band, which never totaled more than 80 people when Weinstein was there, is known for being small but impressive, going out and defeating 200 member marching bands at competitions all across the southeast. Weinstein started marching there in seventh grade and played in the band for six years, going out strong as the band president his senior year.

“I had incredible band directors, Christian Smith and Jason Sneath, and they really instilled a life-long love of music in me and a joy of performing,” says Weinstein. “The start of my interest in teaching music was from being a part of the George Walton band, especially my senior year when I was the president of the band and was responsible for doing a lot of the warm-ups, a lot of the fundamental block teaching, and I had a lot of responsibility. I really enjoyed that responsibility and enjoyed teaching the mellophone section, so it just kind of all went hand in hand, and then, when I got to Georgia, I was section leader of the Redcoat mellophone section for two years and just continued to enjoy teaching music.”

Weinstein didn’t start as a music major though. In fact, he started as a political science major due to outside pressure to have a secure and responsible job.

“I was sitting in my first political science class and it involved all this math and these statistics of calculating how people vote and it just wasn’t what I thought it was gonna be, and I kept thinking ‘I should be practicing right now,’ says Weinstein. “So, I went to the admissions office in the school of music, and they got everything set up, so I was already in wind ensemble as a freshman. I was already in applied lessons, but when I went to the School of Public and International Affairs office they said, ‘Well, we were waiting til’ when you would change your major to music.’”

Now, Weinstein is a fresh face in the band director world, and has already finished his first marching season heading up a high school band program. The students have grown tremendously in terms of their playing ability, marching ability, and fundamentals, according to Weinstein.

“I’m so proud of the kids. They work so hard,” says Weinstein. “I really feel like in my first year coming out of the gate as a first-year teacher and putting together a marching band show and teaching it and executing it and competing with it, I feel it was very successful, and I’m very pleased with my first marching band season.”

Now the group is preparing for their Large Group Performance Evaluation (LGPE), which is sponsored by the Georgia Music Educators Association and evaluates bands across the state giving them a score on a scale from one to five with one being superior and five being extremely poor. Weinstein’s goal for the Temple band program is for each group to get all superior ratings.

To prepare, the Temple band program will go to two pre-LGPE events with one being provided by the University of West Georgia. At the event, Dr. Josh Byrd, UWG Director of Bands, and Dr. Cale Self, UWG Associate Director of Bands will work with high school bands individually to prepare them for their LGPE performances.

“The kids will have many opportunities to get a diverse perspective from guest clinicians, local band directors, our middle school band director, Patti Martin, and at the two pre-LGPE events,” says Weinstein.

Aside from the hard-work and preparation that comes with being a band director, Weinstein is thankful to be given the opportunity to change students’ lives in a place where music education is so highly encouraged.

“I am so grateful to be a teacher in Carroll County Schools,” says Weinstein. “We live in a school district that is extremely supportive of music education. I really continue to look forward to the growth that we’re able to achieve working in this system with these amazing kids at Temple High School.”



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