Madras music teacher brings commitment,
time and care to students
Jared McFarlin doesn’t remember a time he didn’t play the piano. His love for music has spanned his entire life.
“The story goes I climbed up onto the piano bench when I was one or two and started banging out the theme to Bonanza, and I’ve been playing ever since.”
McFarlin’s love for music was furthered once he began high school, where he was active in band, theatre, and choir.
“That was what got me up in the morning and kept me going to school,” said McFarlin. “Band, theatre and choir were everything to me, and they brought me community. They were what pushed me through.”
His experience as a high schooler inspired him to bring that same sense of community and belonging to other students as a teacher. He’s been teaching band for 10 years, and at Madras High School for eight.
“I saw firsthand the impact that it had on me and the positives it brought to my life, and I wanted to bring that to others. The change I see in students from their freshman year to their senior year working with them is amazing.”
McFarlin attended Central Washington University while pursing his undergraduate degree — largely for the state-renowned marching band. He then attended the American Band College for his master’s degree.
The amount of classes and extracurriculars McFarlin participates in at the school is staggering. He spends most weekends at competitions for band, theatre or choir, and every afternoon after school rehearsing for the next school theatre production or working with students on solos, preparing them for college scholarship auditions. As a result, he’s had many students go into music and music education as a career.
He runs symphonic, jazz, and marching band, organizes two choirs, teaches multiple music classes during the school day, leads first-year orientation, and is the musical director for the theatre department. He spends more time outside the traditional school day with students than the vast majority in the district. He works all football season directing the marching band, travels the state to bring students to competitions, attends countless community events to showcase students, and spends months preparing for plays and musicals.
“Jared loves the kids like no other and puts so much time into helping them succeed. He brings so much, not just in his classes, but to the whole student,” said Madras High choir director and Madras Elementary music teacher Molly Williams.
Many of the programs McFarlin is involved in have been revived since he began. For example, after decades of hiatus, he brought back the marching band, and revived the Madras High Thespians program, which had two students qualify for nationals this year.
“I saw photos and articles about this state-renowned marching band that Madras High used to have in the 80s, and I wanted to bring back that legacy,” said McFarlin. Since bringing it back, the marching band has won many competitions, and he has been invited to represent Oregon as a band teacher in parades like the Rose Parade and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Aside from Madras High, McFarlin teaches music lessons at the Joyful Noise music school in Madras and is the musical director for the Madras Missionary Baptist Church. In addition, he is the accompanist for Opera Bend and accompanies youth and adults in solo and ensemble recitals and concerts across the state.
For McFarlin, teaching is all about the students. The band room is almost always full of students working on perfecting their songs, and he’s invested in making sure they feel connected and supported.
“I want people to see that music programs are not just an extracurricular, but a large part of student success,” said McFarlin. “They give students a sense of belonging, a sense of community, and teach them valuable skills. It keeps students engaged in all aspects of school, because they don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”