BENTON — Getting off the bus in the morning and heading into school for a full day of classes can be a drag for some students, but for two days a week at Benton Elementary School, at least there is live music to help take the edge off.

Standing outside one of the school’s main entrances Tuesday morning, music teachers David Hoagland, on clarinet, and Josh Lund, on trombone, were blaring out a rendition of “When the Saints go Marching In” to a trickle of students dropped off in private vehicles. The instruments could be heard over the idling diesel engines and squealing brakes of school buses as chattering young learners stepped off and headed into the building.

After Hoagland and Lund finished that song, they turned to the Imperial March theme from “Star Wars,” then into an off-the-cuff improvisation.

“I don’t know what that was, but it happens,” Lund joked before launching into “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider.”

The two teachers started their biweekly jam sessions last year, when they were paired together for door monitor duty on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Hoagland leads the school’s band, while Lund teaches chorus and classroom music.

The two teachers were standing around talking last fall and thought playing some music would be a good way to spend the time and maybe brighten up students’ days.

Few pupils passing by the pair Tuesday morning seemed to give a second thought about the music. Lund said they get a varied reaction from students. Some stop for a minute to listen, and the music puts a smile on the face of others. Some students ignore them.

“It wakes them up, if nothing else,” Lund said, smiling.

The duo mostly play short, kid-friendly riffs they can improvise, such as “Over the Rainbow,” the theme from the Nintendo video game “Super Mario Brothers” or the Shaker traditional “Simple Gifts.”

When the buses pull up, they turn to “The Wheels on the Bus.”

Since they both play multiple instruments, the duo change their lineup on different days. Hoagland specializes on woodwind instruments such as the clarinet, while Lund goes for brass — trombone, tuba and saxophone. They play every morning they are out there until it gets too cold in the fall, then come back out in the spring with the warmer weather.

Hoagland and Lund clearly enjoy their new morning ritual, which is also a reunion of sorts for the two teachers. Hoagland, who has been teaching music in Maine since 1988, taught Lund how to play the trumpet when he was a student at Benton Elementary. Now the young man is back and in his second year as a music teacher in the school.

“I’ve been around so long I’m seeing my students get jobs in music,” Hoagland joked.

The pair usually are stationed at a secondary entrance, but agreed Tuesday to move over to the main doors to greet the flood of students getting off buses.

There the pair got more interest. A steady stream of students, some with instruments packed in plastic cases, stopped to listen, smiled or passed with intrigued, confused glances.

One girl stopped for a few minutes to show Hoagland she had brought her instrument for band, something she’s forgotten for the past few classes, he confided with a smile.

Peter McGuire — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @PeteL_McGuire


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