- Cleveland Elementary School
Conversation about Confidence: Stinson helps Booth musicians find their sound
You have to believe in yourself to make great music, and J.C. Booth Middle’s Director of Bands McKinley Stinson has the drive to help the young Warrior musicians thrive.
He can trace his path into a music career back to middle school. He was playing the drum set at his church when he found inspiration in his family from his Uncle Steve.
“When he was playing drum set, he was so joy filled,” Stinson remembered. “I had never seen an adult working with such joy. I didn’t know at the time that I wanted to do music for a living, but I thought, jeez, whatever I do I want to feel like that.”
Stinson found a passion for percussion, studying it at the University of South Carolina and following it into a career playing professionally, including a recent stint with the Wicked production at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta.
He came to Booth in 2020, finding an environment where he can thrive. It checked a lot of boxes he was looking for in a school. He gets to see his students every day, there are opportunities to collaborate, and he has a community of supportive families and administrators.
“It’s pretty easy to believe that a lot is possible here.”
Preaching progress is key for Stinson.
“It can be tempting to believe that, when you’re not immediately good at something, you should do something else, and that’s not always the case,” he said. “You can’t be bad at something you haven’t been doing for an extended period of time. You’re not bad, you’re inexperienced.”
His own struggles and development of confidence help him connect with students as they try to learn an instrument.
“You have to have a conversation about confidence and persistence and really wanting to do it,” he said. “It hasn’t always been easy but certainly always fulfilling. I hope my students feel the same way.”
Music is its own world. A student can be a math or science whiz, but you can’t become a cello master with just a book. It takes a lot of practice and a lot of patience with one’s self, a great life lesson.
“Your instrument does not care. Your instrument requires time,” he said. “You have to keep going, and hopefully they’ll apply that practice in whatever area they’re both passionate and gifted at doing.”
The dream is for his students to get so good, that they don’t even need him anymore. All of their preparation leads the way to that point.
“The goal is to kind of work yourself out of a job for that kid,” he said. “When something clicks for them, and they see that, more importantly, it’s because of the work they did, you see that agency blossom in them. You can see they’re going to be fine.”
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