Statesboro High School ninth grader and percussionist Robert Lloyd was selected recently for the Georgia Music Educators Association All-State Band. While an honor and testament to his musical abilities, the All-State opportunity isn’t new to Lloyd.
Actually, it’s the third year in a row Lloyd was selected for the highest honor a Georgia band student can receive.
As a seventh grade student at Langston Chapel Middle School, Lloyd not only made the cut for All-State, which is not as common for a student that young, but he was selected for second chair, an esteemed position. In eighth grade and this year, Lloyd was chosen for first-chair percussionist, the top position.
Lloyd said he is very pleased with the opportunity, stating that all the practice has been worthwhile.
“It’s definitely an honor, but I must say it’s a little bit unexpected,” said Lloyd. “Every year has been a wonderful experience, so I will definitely keep practicing.”
As a percussionist, Lloyd plays several instruments, like snare drums, bells, xylophone and timpani. When asked to name his favorite percussion instrument, Lloyd paused briefly and said: “The timpani because it’s a combination of the rhythmic aspect of snare drums and the melodic aspect of xylophone and bells.”
Lloyd’s interest in music began when he was in the fourth grade, according to his mother, Holly Lloyd, who is the Langston Chapel Middle School band director and her son’s former instructor. She said he began playing around on a drum set in fourth grade and on the snare drums in fifth but didn’t receive formal training until later.
In addition to instruction under Lee Collins, Statesboro High School band director, Lloyd takes private lessons from Billy Hoffman, one of Savannah’s leading jazz players and band director.
Lloyd practices for hours at home beyond his training at the high school and with his private lessons.
“Robert is very self-driven,” said Holly Lloyd. She laughed and said, “Well, in general. When he was younger, I sometimes had to encourage practicing.”
She never had to push practice on the drum set, though. “He plays well on the drum set, but he wanted to play them 12 hours a day when he was younger.”
Besides the influence of his mother, Hoffman, Collins and Southeast Bulloch Band Director Matt Olsen, Robert Lloyd, as the youngest of three boys, spent time around his older brother, Ben who was an All-State participant as a French horn player. Middle son David plays saxophone but is more interested in sporting activities, like soccer.
As for dad Tom Lloyd, Holly Lloyd, who is flute-trained, said, “He plays the CD player,” but said, “He is a great supporter of the arts and his children.”
SHS Band Director Collins spoke highly of Lloyd.
“Robert came into the program and immediately took up a leadership role in percussion, showing maturity far beyond his years. He is not only very talented, but he is very entertaining and an enjoyable student to teach.”
Lloyd took part in the Florida Citrus Parade at the end of December, along with band members from Statesboro High, Southeast Bulloch and Portal, in a combined band called the Bulloch Blues Band.
Lloyd and Collins left Thursday for the All-State Band event, which lasts through Sunday. Lloyd will perform with the SHS band several times this spring in upcoming events, including the band competition on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., a spring band concert on April 9 at 7 p.m., a night of percussion and jazz on May 10 at 7:00 and an all-Bulloch County honor band event May 14.
Lloyd said he is grateful for the musical opportunities he’s been afforded in school.
“The fact that music is prevalent here, well, my mom, Mr. Collins, Mr. Olsen – we have a great community for music here.
“The arts are very important and help people excel academically. Being involved in music, art, drama will always benefit kids. Arts help them feel better emotionally. Music has been shown to improve students’ skills in math.”