The Union Recorder

May 13, 2013

Band director switches gears to a new calling

Kyle Collins
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — Baldwin High School senior band member Michael Watson put Fine Arts and Band Director Clint Raburn’s 13 years in perspective.

“I don’t think there is a student who’s come through the band program that hasn’t been touched by Mr. Raburn in some way,” Watson said. “He pushed the program further that it had ever gone and got results.”

Thursday’s spring concert marked the end of Raburn’s BHS experience, as the reigns go to former Jacksonville State Marching Southerners drum major Ryan Murrell.

The new director is familiar with the program. Murrell assisted Baldwin through every summer band camp since 2007.

Raburn had a certain gut feeling when his replacement performed a test run.

“The minute he came in I let him conduct the band. I was amazed at his experience. At that time, I had no plans of ever leaving here. I remember that day I thought if I was ever going to be replaced he is the one. I believe God orchestrates all those things,” Raburn said.

The well-respected band director transitions to a full-time Creative Arts Pastor position at Northridge Christian Church.

Raburn led worship part-time at Northridge Campus Church, formerly known as First Christian Church before the merge, for several years. His wife Amy is also a youth pastor.

The decision wasn’t brisk for a man loving Baldwin County Schools’ fine arts.

“I prayed about it for several months. It was a big decision because I love Baldwin High School and my students,” he said. “Ten years ago, I’d have never thought I’d consider something like that. I love that part of the mission field. Through prayer and that opportunity arising, it just felt like a good move.”

The Gospel drives Raburn. Music comes second.

Baldwin junior musician Morgan Knowles supports the new calling.

“I’m proud my teacher has that kind of relationship with Christ that he can do that for a full-time job,” Knowles said.

Students describe their beloved teacher as a real person who worries more about character development.

Senior band student Jakira Trawick said Raburn teaches music through life lessons.

“I think what makes him a great teacher is that he genuinely cares for his students,” Trawick said. “He wants to know about the things we are doing in our lives.”

The spring concert playlist made up of Raburn’s favorites including “River of Life,” “Voodoo” and “Abram’s Pursuit” serve as musical storytelling pieces expressing events better than words ever could.

Every selection covers one of life’s seasons at Baldwin High whether it was Raburn’s 2011 Baldwin County Teacher of the Year honor through the grade 6 difficult “Abram’s Pursuit” or “Georgia on My Mind” where he played the beloved saxophone.

Raburn urges students’ total involvement in whatever they play. Sophomore Samaria Simmons enjoys her director’s deep musical connection, which inspires students to bring their best.

“The way he teaches really made me fall in love with music. He has a lot of soul, which makes it more fun and creative,” Simmons said. “He’s not ashamed of his love for music. I like how he’s confident about his job.”

Music has always been a force for Raburn after he fell in love with middle school band in his hometown of Byron.

A key moment during his junior year at Peach County High School changed things. Raburn’s high school band director urged a choice between future efforts in tennis or music.

“It was at that time in my 11th grade year that I recognized this is what I wanted to do. I had to be involved in music,” the BHS band director said.

Georgia College Director of Bands Dr. Todd Shiver lured Raburn to Milledgeville, where he played in pep, jazz and concert band. A bachelor’s degree in music education and the introduction to his future wife occurred at GC.

In 1995, Raburn began teaching at Louisville Middle School and then Jefferson County High School. After earning a master’s degree from Chicago’s VanderCook College of Music, the band director returned to Milledgeville for the Baldwin Band leadership post.

“I literally finished my master’s degree, graduated on a Friday and started band camp that next week,” Raburn said. “It just flowed from there.”

From the beginning, the then new director of bands focused on perfecting what existed.

“To me Baldwin High School has always been known for their band and fine arts programs. I just wanted to find ways to make it even better,” he said.

Fine Arts Center construction fell into that better statement. The school’s facility serves as a 16-county music district hub for countless arts activities.

Raburn became the Fine Arts Director for the county schools in 2011. He praised the local group of fine arts educators.

Baldwin’s Marching Pride traveled all over the country and beyond under Raburn. Trips to Hollywood, Disney World and New York City served as special moments for band members.

“I try to create experiences for the students that they wouldn’t normally get,” Raburn said. “It’s important for students to know there is a lot more in the world other than what they experience here in Milledgeville.”

Teaching around 190 band members is unlike anything else, according to the former teacher of the year. Outsiders don’t see the 60 plus hours in two hot summer band camp weeks.

“Marching band is a lot more technical than it looks. They may see the halftime show and say ‘oh that’s great’, but they really don’t understand what’s been put into it at that point,” Raburn said.

Whatever happens in the concert setting carries to the field. A 2007 competitive performance of “Funkadelic” and the second place trophy earned stand out of the bandleader’s memories.

“It set the bar for future students to where they needed to get,” the director said.

Setting a high bar resonated with his students. Baldwin band participants cherished the constant push.

Caldwell Pelton, BHS junior, said complacency doesn’t fly with Raburn.

“I like how ambitious he is with the music because he doesn’t pick easy things,” Pelton said. “He picks harder music than we’ve ever played before and pushes our skills.”

Raburn’s next mission has current students’ full support. Senior Clay Garland calls his former music educator down to earth and someone who offers true perspective.

Northridge Christian Church’s new pastor has a fresh mission to spread the Gospel through God-given talent.

“It’s to the point I want everybody to know it,” Raburn said. “Hopefully, students have been able to see that.”