Tony HammondThe Sound of Music 

As each musician’s eyes follow notes across the page, their synapses fire in unison and a melodic swell erupts from the group - music is a communal event.

But their magical connection doesn’t emerge out of nothing – musicians work together to develop their sound and create that sense of community. For the past three years, Tony Hammond has been developing that sound and community as visiting instructor of music and director of bands at Rocky Mountain College.

“For me, teaching is about the relationships you develop with the students,” he says. “At the college level, I am not afraid to challenge students as long as they know I care about them; they are going to be better and feel better about things if they work hard for their contribution, and the whole is improved.”

Hammond also works to integrate the RMC music program into the greater community, most recently attending the Buddy DeFranco jazz festival in Missoula, Mont.

“Just being there and knowing we were going to have a good product, with kids being nervous, but playing through it and playing really well was so rewarding,” he says. “The students got to see one of the greatest jazz trumpet players in the world, Arturo Sandoval, and the clinician that worked with us was fantastic.”

Tony practices as he preaches and is an active member in the music community beyond RMC. Besides playing trombone in a local nine-piece funk jazz band, Funk in the Trunk, he’s also in the process of organizing a faculty jazz combo.

“There is talent at RMC,” Tony says. “The music program is like the whole campus: it’s a community within itself.”