We are very fortunate to have the quality of teachers we do have representing the wide range of disciplines necessary for our students to succeed in the very competitive world we live in today. One sterling example is Joe Mulligan, RMHS’ Band Director for the past 4 years.
Joe succeeded David Buntin who hired Joe as a band instructor for our Marching Band in 1990. In 1994 Joe became the band director for both Winthrop’s Middle and High Schools where he first began teaching music to Winthrop students from the 4th grade right through high school. In 1999, after the retirement of long time Coolidge music teacher Bob Mingolelli, Joe started teaching at Coolidge as well as RMHS.
Joe attributes his interest in band and music to three Beverly music teachers, Memorial Middle School Band teacher Sandy Gesweld and Beverly High School Band Directors Ray Novack and Larry Drouin. Complementing this is the sense of community that a high school marching band and jazz groups deliver to the attending audience.
He readily identified the quality of teachers, staff and students he witnessed in Beverly with that amply displayed at RMHS. The author sees another parallel between the two communities. Both are members of the Noble Network of 29 North Shore libraries that rank one and two in network book circulation with Beverly first as their population is twice that of Reading’s.
The biggest challenges Joe sees for Reading students is that they’re schedules are quite demanding. Additionally, there are many programs available today that respond to the different needs of individual students. The staff tries to facilitate what the students need and want while establishing clear expectations. Staying as open-minded and flexible as the process allows is a key element to success.
RMHS’ Marching, Symphonic, Stage, and Jazz Bands are often the answer to students with a musical interest according to Joe requiring a full commitment just like varsity sports and, like varsity sports, there’s a season for every occasion. The busiest time for the Marching Band is the fall were the band performs at all home football games, Veterans Day Services, 4 parades all around northern Massachusetts not to mention 7 Marching Band competitions. One of the biggest events that the Marching Band holds is the NESBA Marching Band Show, which will be held this year on Saturday October 26. Twenty of the states best marching bands will be competing. At state finals the RMHS Marching Band has finished 2nd or 3rd for the past 4 years.
The Jazz Band is the most intensive commitment for students with practice every Wednesday night and Saturday morning throughout the year. The jazz band hosts two MAJE (Massachusetts Association for Jazz Education) festivals every year, one for high school band, and the other for middle school groups. The RMHS Jazz Band has received a gold medal at MAJE for the past 14 straight years. Because of this they have performed at the Berklee Performance Center and the Hatch Shell on the Boston Esplanade.
The challenge for Joe is to keep the Reading Band Program a strong and high quality one. There’s no individual achievement that stands out more than accomplishing that objective according to Joe. “Continuing to sustain what we have and grow programs by performing at town places like Artis Senior Living, the Pleasant Street Center and community events like the 375 Birthday Celebration’s “PorchFest” are activities either completed or being planned.” Always a mainstay is RMHS’ graduation on June 2nd this year and there will be a trip to Disney World in 2021.
It probably won’t surprise you that in his spare time, apart from valuable family time, Joe loves to attend musical concerts and teaches at the Mary Jo Lahey Symphonic Band Camp at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. With his family, Joe enjoys fly-fishing, canoeing, and vacationing on the Cape.
Joe believes that students choosing music in high school can enjoy it for a lifetime. Their enjoyment of music doesn’t have to stop upon high school graduation. While the competition at the professional level can be intense, the rewards experienced are simply irreplaceable.
Joe holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from the University of Lowell and a Masters Degree in Low Brass Performance from UMass- Lowell as well as a Masters in Instrumental Conducting from Southern Oregon University. Joe lives in Haverhill with his wife Jennifer and two sons, Joseph, who is 16 and Liam, 13. His mother, Carol, and Father, Joe Mulligan, have been steadfast and active supporters of Joe’s musical career since middle school.
At RMHS, Joe teaches 4 elective music classes encompassing Basic Guitar, Music Theory, History of Rock and Roll and an Introduction to Digital Media class encompassing such areas as voice overs, audio equipment and composing music for video games.
Reading’s appreciation of music in Joe’s mind is excellent right from the Town and School administrations, the faculty at RMHS, Parker and Coolidge Middle Schools and our 5 elementary schools a well. The group that supports the band program the most is the RMHS Band Parent Organization (RMHS BPO) attending concerts, actively supporting their musical needs, and simply being there when it counts.