LAHS band director gets ready for next stage in life

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By Kirsten Laskey

What made Los Alamos High School band director Dr. Charles Faulkner choose a career in teaching music? “My trig (trigonometry) grade,” he said.

Faulkner was a senior in high school and up until that point he planned to pursue a degree in electrical engineering.

With his plans in limbo, Faulkner said one of his band instructors recommended going into the music field.

However, Faulkner said he did not have a scholarship to help him get into a music program in college. Another band instructor came to his rescue by making a call and securing a scholarship at West Texas State University.

“And I’ve been very happy with that choice,” Faulkner said. “I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.”

This choice kicked off a 43-year career in education. But when the bell rang on Friday to conclude the school year, it also wrapped up Faulkner’s career in teaching.

He spent only two years at Los Alamos High School, but along with the band, achieved a lot, including winning the state championship at the New Mexico Activities Association State Concert Band Contest on April 24 at Los Lunas High School.

He credited the parents and the students’ support for a successful two years.

“The strongest thing about the job up here is the good support you get from the parents and the kids are so success oriented, they won’t accept anything less from themselves,” he said.

Faulkner added he is happiest when he is up in front of the classroom, working with the kids.

Before coming to LAHS, Faulkner worked at a school in Amarillo, Texas, as well as schools in Clovis, and Friona, Texas.

Several highlights throughout his career include his first high school band earning a first-place sweepstake award in Texas, following this, several other bands under Faulkner’s direction earned outstanding awards at major competitions.

In Clovis, Faulkner said the school won the state marching championship five times.

A real significant highlight was earning the New Mexico Music Educator of the Year award in 1999-2000.

What attracted Faulkner to Los Alamos? He explained he spent 21 years in Clovis and he enjoyed the atmosphere in New Mexico.

Faulkner joked that in Texas it felt like people would nail each other to the wall, but in this state features a family feel. So, “I was looking to move back to New Mexico,” he said.

Although Faulkner had never set foot in Los Alamos, he was aware of former LAHS band directors Jan McDonald and Pam Towrey’s work.

Faulkner may have first saw Los Alamos on the second day of summer band camp but he said he already knew it offered an outstanding band program.

He added his first impression of the community was that it was pretty and the band students worked really hard.

“That first impression is still the main two things (I think of) when I think about Los Alamos,” Faulkner said.

With his career coming to a close and retirement beginning, Faulkner is considering getting involved in music mentoring programs in Albuquerque, but nothing full time.

He added he would like to participate in band clinics and perhaps do some judging at competitions.

His and his wife’s three children have given them five grandchildren so Faulkner said he is looking forward to spending more time with his grandchildren. Taking some vacations also sounds pretty good, he said.

Before his retirement plans unfold, Faulkner said he would like to give out a special thank you to the parents and the people who have supported the band program.

Many businesses, organizations and parents have helped the band, he said. “I can’t stress that enough – what a good job they do.”