Jack VanderVeen hopes to continue with his love of band at GVSU next fall


Jack VanderVeen

Jack Vanderveen posing for one of his senior photos

Senior Jack VanderVeen decided to learn how to play the trumpet in the sixth grade.

However, the instrument didn’t stick, and he quit the class the following year. Instead, he took guitar lessons outside of school and decided to join the band once again while entering his freshman year.

“During middle school,” Jack said, “I started taking guitar lessons, and after I got to the point where I felt like I was good enough to be involved, I wanted to make music with the band, and me not knowing how to play any other instrument, [I rejoined the band].”

Jack joined the Jazz Band his freshman year, and the year after, he joined the marching band and got to perform during home football games. 

While living for the energy in the stands and the adrenaline rush that comes with performing, Jack decided to apply to be one of the drum majors his senior year. 

“I saw the drum majors [last year, and] I liked what they were doing,” Jack said, “but at the time, I never thought it was possible for me or in within my reach for me to do that. Then [during] my junior year, I kept watching them and I thought, ‘I think I should try out.’”

After realizing this was something he wanted to do, Jack then had to go through an audition process with the band director, Laura Zilhaver, that includes conducting, giving commands, and filling out a leadership questionnaire. 

Once completing all these tasks, Jack and the other applicants had to wait patiently for Zilhaver to make her decision regarding who would be the drum majors next year.

“I actually found out during class [that I got the position],” Jack said. “It was during class, [so] I couldn’t do anything; it’s not like I was jumping up and down, but I was [celebrating] inside.” 

Once learning of his new position, Jack, and fellow drum major senior Logan Verlinde, began taking on their extra responsibilities. 

“You have to come early,” Jack said. “Drum majors have to set an example inside and outside of the band. There’s obviously a big leadership role there.”

At the time, I never thought it was possible for me or in within my reach for me to do that.

— Jack VanderVeen

Yet, regardless of the extra responsibilities and the organizational skills it takes to balance both school and band, some of Jack’s favorite high school memories are thanks to FHC’s band program. 

“I definitely remember going to Hastings for a jazz festival my freshman year,” Jack said. “It was really fun to go and see other bands and perform for a Clinician. But, what was really unique is that I had to lug [a] 40-pound amp everywhere we went.”

And as his senior year comes to a close within the next couple of months, Jack reflects back on his plethora of memories of Friday nights spent in the bleachers with the rest of the band and conducting the band with Logan.

“It’s really a unique experience to be one of the people front,” Jack said. “And, you know, working with Logan has been really fun. It’s definitely a unique experience that I’m thankful to have gotten. [I’m going to miss] talking with people in the stands, just hanging out with them on Friday nights.”

Next fall, Jack is going to be attending Grand Valley State University, where he just got into their Honors College, and will be trying out for the jazz band in order to keep practicing this love of his.

“I definitely think it’s opened doors for me,” Jack said. “[If I didn’t] join jazz band, I wouldn’t have joined [the] marching band. Being [a] drum major, I actually just got into the Honors College at GVSU, and I think that that played a big part. It can be hard to want to practice or get better, but I definitely think it’s worth it to do it in the end.”