School of Performing Arts

Life as a Graduate

Four years ago, Hanchey resurrected the then-defunct music program at Valley School District in the Magic Valley. Today, he teaches music to more than 100 students from the elementary to high school level. As the only music teacher, however, it can be difficult to find someone to share ideas and commiserate with when there are issues.


Unless you are a member of the Orange Jacket Club.


Hanchey and his friends, Brett Barker, '11, DJ McCarty, '05, Hiroshi Fukuoka, '08, and Mitch Tilley, '11, are all teachers in the Magic Valley, separated in total by more than 50 miles, but bound together by a shared profession and a fierce Bengal spirit.


All of them are music teachers in rural southern Idaho, working to build programs in a field that is often hit by budget cuts and overshadowed by more academic subjects. Barker teaches band at Minico High School in Rupert, McCarty teaches in Wendell, Fukuoka teaches at Jerome High School in Jerome and Tilley teaches at Burley High School in Burley. The group meets regularly to discuss their profession, share news about upcoming competitions, and enjoy each other's company.


"We've really been resurrecting music in South Idaho," Hanchey said. "It's something we're all excited about. Our biggest goal is to see music education grow at all levels."


Sometimes the text messages fly back and forth, as many as 100 per hour when the group is having a big discussion.


"You have friends who are resources any time," Tilley said.


Often, the teachers guest conduct in each other's classrooms, and share opportunities. They cheer each other on at marching band competitions, and watch each other in area parades. In April, the ISU Wind Ensemble came to Tilley's classroom at Burley High School, and other Orange Jacket members brought their students to listen and participate.


"It was a big deal that ISU came here," Barker said. "That's the first time a lot of my students had seen a collegiate band perform."


The experience was inspiring for many of the students, and Tilley said many of his decided to audition at ISU. Hanchey says all of the teachers stress how much performing music at college can make a difference with scholarship opportunities and more.


"We tell our kids it pays to play, even if they don't become music majors," he said. "It pays to play no matter what you want to be."


Of course, the Orange Jacket Club loves to enjoy music together, and they enjoy having their students see them share their skills.


Barker and McCarty have a rock band, Space Hat. Fukuoka, Hanchey and Tilley all play together in the Twin Falls Municipal Band.


"We like to have our students hear us play," Hanchey said with a laugh. "That way they can know that we can rock."


This spring, the Orange Jacket Club helped to form the first ISU Alumni Association Chapter in the Magic Valley. ISU has been an important part of their lives. Fukuoka was married at Holt Arena, and still uses his Bengal-striped trombone when he is playing with his students. They are ambassadors to ISU in the classroom, stressing just how much a music education at ISU meant to them.


"I tell them about the opportunities I received," Tilley said. "We were able to travel to Europe and play. We're able to do something we love. That's attributed to the education we received at ISU."

As featured in ISU Magazine, Fall 2015 Issue

By Emily Frandsen

Mitch Tilley, Brett Barker, Robbie Hanchey, DJ McCarty, and Hiroshi Fukuoka

Music Department

Music Department

921 South 8th Avenue

Stop 8099

Pocatello Idaho, 83209



Telephone: (208) 282-3636

Fax: (208) 282-4884

Department of Theatre/Dance

Department of Theatre & Dance

921 South 8th Avenue

Stop 8006

Pocatello Idaho, 83209



Telephone: (208) 282-3173

Fax: (208) 282-6281

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921 South 8th Avenue
Pocatello, Idaho, 83209