ORIGINALLY WRITTEN LAURA CAMPBELL
It’s not hard for Canton-Galva junior Charles Coyle to demonstrate confidence in what he does.
Knowing what he wants to do, and knowing that he does it well, are part of what makes him a good leader, Coyle said. That includes not only playing baritone saxophone in the school band but in other activities in and out of school.
Coyle started playing the tenor saxophone in sixth grade at Canton-Galva after moving there from Denver, Colo., two years earlier.
He later picked up the baritone sax because, he said, “we needed more bass in the band.”
The switch has been a fun one, he said.
“It’s got all the low (parts),” Coyle said. “Since I’m pretty much the only one who plays it, it’s really fun to be loud.”
Without a doubt, Coyle said, he is a band leader with fellow junior saxophone player Tyler Becker.
“Tyler (Becker) and I pretty much control the band,” he said. “We can change the tempo as we play and everyone pretty much follows us.”
Coyle said they also help band director Bill Olson choose what pieces the band plays.
Coyle credits much of his growth as an instrumentalist to his participation in honors band events around the state, including Lions State Band at Friends University in Wichita last year, bands at Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina and Heart of America league honors band.
“You get to meet a bunch of different people,” he said of the honors bands. “You get to learn about other people and how they learn about stuff in their schools.”
Outside the band, music is an integral part of Coyle’s life.
“I’ve always surrounded myself with music,” he said.
He enjoys everything but country music, he said, and his favorite artists are Christian rock bands like Day of Fire and Kutless and Christian rappers such as Grits and tobyMac. For variety, he also likes classical jazz, he said.
Coyle’s activities in and out of school are also varied, he said.
At Canton-Galva, he is part of Future Business Leaders of America and Students Against Destructive Decisions.
Outside of school, he has worked for about three months at Golden Dragon restaurant in McPherson and from January to April for the last four years at Rundstrom Accounting in Canton.
He will also achieve status next month as an Eagle Scout, he said.
To top it off, Coyle preaches regularly as an elder at First Christian Church in Canton, he said.
“I used to preach off and on,” he said. “Now I preach once a month, so it’s actually on a regular basis.”
Coyle expects he eventually will be asked to take over full-time at the church after college, but the job is not in his plans, he said.
“It’s not really what I want to do,” he said.
Instead, Coyle plans to obtain a liberal arts degree with an emphasis in music education and a minor in youth ministry from Central Christian College in McPherson, he said.
Then, Coyle said, he and his girlfriend have made plans to eventually move to Colorado, where he will find a teaching job while she finishes studying interior design.
In a nutshell, his goal is to “teach kids music and then teach them the Bible on weekends,” he said.
With his playing and preaching experience, he said, Coyle feels he is well on his way in preparation to do just that.
Coyle knows not only how to play the saxophone but also the basics of playing nearly every instrument in the band. The mechanics of it are simple enough, he said.
“Once you know how to play one brass, you can play them all,” he said, “because they’re all the same.”
The same goes within each group of band instruments, he said.
Still, a good music teacher needs more refined playing skills on each instrument, he said.
“I want to learn how to emphasize on different instruments,” he said. “If I’m going to teach music, I have to be able to teach kids how to play the instruments, so I want to learn how to play the other instruments better.”
In addition, Coyle said he is learning to play the guitar so he can lead worship music in church while singing at the same time.
“I can’t do that with the sax,” he said.
Being able to sing is important to him, he said, because he considers himself more a vocalist than an instrumentalist, he said.
He has been in the choir in past years, although his schedule would not permit it this year, and he earned a “II” rating for his vocal solo at regional competition last Saturday.
But amid all these competing musical interests, Coyle said he still wants to develop his skills with the saxophone, too.
He already owns professional tenor and soprano saxophones, he said. Now he wants to buy a professional baritone saxophone so he can do more advanced playing than he can on his student instrument.
But even with his current saxophone, Coyle plays in a superior manner that the Canton-Galva band relies on to bring it all together, said Olson, in his fourth year directing the school bands.
“He’s a cohesive part of the band,” Olson said. “When Charles doesn’t play, the band doesn’t sound as good.”
Coyle is solid as an individual musician as well, Olson said, able to read music well and keep good rhythm.
“He’s just like having another director out there in the band,” Olson said.
Olson is confident he can count on Coyle’s love of music to keep him singing and playing throughout his life.
“I know that he won’t stop doing his music because it means too much to him,” Olson said. “I know he’ll always do as much as he can.”