By Libby Hopkins

Philosopher Confucius once said, “Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without.”
Music can also inspire, just like it has inspired the students who are a part of The McLane Viking Music Program at McLane Middle School in Brandon. The program has seen amazing success and growth over the last two years under the direction of Alex C. Pedigo, the school’s band director. Since Pedigo joined the McLane family the band has gone from 30-40 young musicians to more than 140 young musicians working hard every day to become the best musicians they can be in the class and on stage.

“The Viking Music program used to be a power house music program in the 80’s receiving superiors, and excellence at their music evaluations, but with the changing of time and people moving in the mid 2000’s, the program took a hit and stop receiving those ratings and started receiving fair’s, and poor’s,” Pedigo said. “When I arrived at McLane in the 2015-2016 school year, the band program was small.”

In the 2015-2016 school year, the band added 54 new 6th graders and was awarded its highest rating at the music assessment. In 2016-2017 the music program jumped to 150 students. In the 2017 music assessment, it was awarded superior, the highest rating in 15 years. “I believe we are accomplishing this by the mentality that we have,” Pedigo said. “At McLane, we have a motto Be Viking Strong. In the band that equates to not making excuses, not feeling bad when we fail, but to keep pushing forward and be the best that you can be. Also, we want to prove to the county that McLane is a strong school with a lot of great things happening, and all we want is people to help us continue to be great.”

Pedigo hopes McLane will have one of the strongest music programs in the county. “I want to bring back orchestra, choir, jazz band, and guitar,” Pedigo said. “I want students to feel like they have a home/safe space in school where they can express themselves and let go of the troubles that bind them throughout the day. I would also like to see 50 percent of the school population in the arts.” To learn more about The McLane Viking Music Program, visit www.mclane.mysdhc.org. The band will hold an end of the year concert on Thursday, May 18 at 7 p.m. at Brandon H.S. McLane Middle School is located at 306 N. Knights Ave. in Brandon.

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Libby Hopkins has been a part of the Brandon community for more than 30 years. She is a graduate of USF with a degree in journalism. She has been a freelance writer for The Osprey Observer Newspaper since 2008. She also the Executive Director of Center Place Fine Arts and Civic Association. She is a dog mom to her rescue dog, Marshall. She loves being a part of the Brandon Community and she loves sharing positive news about our community.