When he was in fifth grade, Glen Cain wanted to play the saxophone. His band teacher felt the clarinet would be a better choice.
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“Maybe it was because I was small,” recalled Cain, 54. “My band teacher said to start with the clarinet and you can switch to the saxophone when you get older.'”
From fifth to seventh grades, Cain focused on the clarinet. That perseverance paid off and in the eighth grade he switched to the saxophone.
“I was better when I made the switch to saxophone because of the lessons learned on the clarinet,” Cain said. “I was ahead of the guys who had started on sax.”
Different band teachers
Cain went on to play the saxophone as well as the clarinet at El Dorado High School where he graduated in 1975. During his four years, Cain had three different band teachers.
“We actually had a pretty good band despite the change in band instructors at El Dorado,” Cain said.
At El Dorado, Cain and a few other band members formed a jazz band that played at competitions, festivals and gigs throughout El Dorado County and the Sacramento region.
In 1974, he was part of the El Dorado High School’s “Band Wagon” jazz band that played in Europe.
“We practiced at each other’s houses,” Cain remembered. “We’d go over to the drummer’s house because he had the most equipment.”
Cain’s passion for music led to a full-ride music scholarship at Biola University.
At Biola Cain took many instrumental classes. The classes covered strumming a guitar and bass, flying through the keyboards, playing drums and practicing on the flute.
“If I hadn’t received the scholarship, I wouldn’t have been able to go to college,” Cain said. “I wanted to be a music teacher.”
That dream came true — for the last 28 years, Cain has been teaching music classes — choir and instrumentals — at Gold Trail School in Placerville. The position was only part-time at its inception in the early 1980s.
His experience of performing in bands and his musical knowledge have had a positive influenece on his students. Many Gold Trail graduates perform in either band, choir and/or drama at El Dorado, Union Mine and Ponderosa high schools.
Music runs in the Cain family. Glen’s wife of 33 years, Linda, is a piano teacher. The couples adult children teach music — son Ben teaches band at Marina Village Middle School in El Dorado Hills, Matt is a music/youth pastor in Woodburn, Ore. and daughter Sarah is a professional photographer who works with junior high students at Gold Country Baptist Church in Shingle Springs and is part of the church choir. One of the couples grandchildren is already learning how to play the piano.
His devotion toward music has earned Cain the prestigious Music Educator of the Year Award from the California Music Educators Association, Capitol Section, for his “years of dedication to excellence in music education.”
The association will give Cain the award during a special dinner in Sacramento on Friday, April 13. He will also receive the state award at the All-State Music Conference in Fresno on Feb. 22, 2013.
“He’s like a pillar of our academic and performing arts programs,” said Gold Trail Union School District Superintendent Joe Murchison, who along with Principal Stephany Rewick nominated Cain for the award.
“It’s the school’s award. Good teachers need good students. Whatever we do, it’s our award.” Cain said.
This award is one of many Cain and the music department have won over the last 12 years.
The music program has also received the overall outstanding Middle School Concert Band and Outstanding Female vocalists and soloists at the Music Competitions of America Competition at Fullerton College and Disneyland.
Saxophone performers were also selected to perform at Carnation Plaza in Disneyland and honored at the inaugural Gold Country Jazz Festival in El Dorado Hills.
The California School Boards Association presented the department with the prestigious Golden Bell Award for Outstanding Junior High/Middle/Intermediate School for Instruction.
They’ve brought home first and second place awards from the Folsom Jazz Festival and were voted the Best Youngest Jazz Band at the festival for several years.
The district has also won many first place awards for the junior high concert band and the elementary concert bands, plus best jazz bands and jazz combos at Music in the Park in Vallejo.
Cain and the music department have also received a California State Assembly Proclamation honoring the Gold Trail School Band and Jazz Band programs The band was also featured on KCRA Channel 3 for Music Mania.
It is a requirement for every student at Gold Trail to take music classes at the campuses that house grades fourth through eighth, Murchison said.
Fourth graders learn about choir, fifth graders learn about instruments with hopes that they will become attached to one or more.
From sixth through eighth grades, the students are offered elective classes that range from playing in jazz bands — beginner and advanced — as well as the school’s marching band. They could also sing in the school’s choir.
Cain also teaches music mania, which is a music theater class.
The jazz bands usually meet during lunch time to rehearse for upcoming shows.
“They come up with their own music and he oversees them,” said Murchison.
Pier 39 to Disneyland
Over the years, his bands have performed at Pier 39 in San Francisco to Disneyland in Southern California, plus many holiday performances.
Murchison and Cain have seen students become parents and then have seen the next generation participate in one of Cain’s music classes.
One of the goals of the arts program ay Gold Trail is to enhance the student’s educational experience.
“Our goal at the school is for the students to become better people,” Cain said.
“They will be smarter, brighter, better thinkers and more successful having an arts education. The students are going to colleges, universities, they’re earning scholarships, they are getting married and raising their children.
“Every educational study shows that people who learn to play instruments score higher in everything. They are more likely to graduate from high school, go to college and make more money. IQ scores go up. That’s why our district has been real firm in supporting arts education,” Cain said.
Contact Mike Bush at 530-344-5079 or [email protected] Follow @MBushMtDemo on Twitter.