Ferris integrated studies junior and principal percussionist in Ferris’ concert band Ben Withey found an interest in percussion after he found out he was rhythmically gifted in fifth grade.
“I decided I wanted to come to Ferris for game design of all things. I ended up switching all the way over but I sent emails to the director of the pep band and started getting more and more involved. Eventually they convinced me to do the concert bands and ever since then I started doing more and more,” Withey said.
Withey grew up in Charlotte, where music testing was performed on all fifth graders. In sixth grade, he joined his school’s band as a percussionist and stayed throughout high school. For Withey, music is not only a hobby but a way of life—saying that his involvement in the band has been therapeutic for him.
“When you go to band, you’re not worried about the 12-page paper that you’ve got due. It gives you an opportunity to step away from something that you’re stressed with all the time and work on performing your art,” Withey said.
With about 60 students in the band, Withey had the opportunity to play the gong in the Ferris band’s performance of Jurassic World at their concert on April 29.
“Symphony band has a different atmosphere. It’s difficult to describe but symphony band is mostly students. There’s an understanding that we’re all here because we love what we’re doing. We’re not music majors – there’s not an expectation that you come in and have to sight read this piece of music. We’re all here because we love it and we work hard for the concert,” Withey said.
Whether it’s a need for stress-relief or a desire to try something new, Withey encourages new or timid students to go out on a limb.
“If you play an instrument, I would encourage you to check it out. It’s intimidating to come to a college and think you can’t do band but the people and the directors and the atmosphere are all very welcoming and inviting,” Withey said.