MUSD’s Michael Hammers is a one-man show
I first heard about Michael Hammers from a friend who said her elementary-aged kids were coming home with the sheet music for Buffalo Springfield’s “For What it’s Worth.” Their new music teacher, a 26-year-old graduate of California State University Long Beach, was teaching them the song to perform at Mammoth Unified School District’s 2016 Winter Concert, which will take place on Wednesday, December 14, and feature over 300 students, from third graders to seniors.
“He’s an incredible music teacher and the kids just love it,” Superintendent Lois Klein told The Sheet. “He’s really brought music to our school district, which is just so important.”
Indeed, in a time when music programs across the country are suffering, Hammers, who is currently in his second year of teaching at MUSD, has breathed new life into the musical lives of his students.
“When I started here, there were five students in the high school music program,” Hammers told this reporter when I came to sit in on a couple of his classes on Wednesday, November 30—exactly two weeks before the big performance. There are now over 40 students taking his classes as an elective at Mammoth High School alone.
He’s also started the beginning band program this year for elementary school students, helped along by a $4,000 grant from the Infinite Music Foundation, a nonprofit which partnered with Mammoth Brewing Company’s Bluesapalooza to provide funds to buy the school ten new instruments.
“We were able to buy new trumpets, flutes, clarinets,” said Hammers. “It was an incredible gift to the school.” He said that the new instruments arrived a few weeks prior to The Sheet’s visit and just in time for the Winter Concert. The beginning band program meets Mondays and Tuesdays, and is introducing the youngest kids in the district to music. “The prior [music] teacher did not teach music at the elementary school,” said Hammers, who earned his Bachelor’s in Music Education from CSULB in 2012 and his teaching credential in 2013. “Now we have a complete K-12 music program.”
“His energy is amazing,” said Mammoth Elementary School principal Rosanne Lampariello.
“Energy” is an understatement for what it takes to corral a room full of students with noisemakers in their hands, as The Sheet saw firsthand.