TJ White looks back on his days out of college, playing blues, country and cover gigs in an all-adult band.
Now with about 30 years of music experience, White volunteers his time directing an eight-member youth band called Skylines.
“In a roundabout way, I’m kind of giving back,” he said.
White, 49, arranges music selections and gigs for the teenagers to play, including a recent performance at Riverfest and as an opening act for the local rock band, Gooding.
It’s an experience Cale Martin, the band’s guitarist, said is unique for young musicians.
“It’s really cool to see how these bands actually operate from the playing perspective,” said Martin, who graduated from Wichita East High in May.
The band — which specializes mostly in jazz, rock and blues — began when White’s son was in middle school about four years ago.
“I thought it would be neat to get a group of kids together,” said White, who works at Massco Maintenance Supply Co. “(The students) have band and orchestra, but they don’t really have anything for a smaller group.”
White hauls some of his instruments to rehearsals once a week — when the band is in session — and sometimes fills in on the drums for performances.
“There’s a lot of good things that come out of making music and working together as a team,” White said.
“It’s probably no different than sports or scouting. It’s just a different avenue.”
Since performing with Skylines under White’s direction, Martin said the players have learned about band camaraderie.
“The music doesn’t all matter,” Martin said, “but that the people in the band are communicating, and are on the same page and getting along well.”