Returning to musical roots

Chris Hoefflinger stands on the podium, conducting for the freshmen band class. A decade ago, he was in these very seats as an HHS student, watching his own teacher and current band director, John Burn.

After having graduated in 2016 as a percussionist for the marching band, Hoefflinger recently joined the music department as a student teacher for the 2022-2023 school year. 

Hoefflinger said his love for music started at a young age and it was imperative in helping with his emotional needs. 

“I was diagnosed with PDD-NOS, which is a type of autism,” Hoefflinger said. “I’ve now been diagnosed with ADHD. And so the best way I could share my feelings as a baby was through music. I would get excited when I heard music and I could express myself in a way that I knew how to.”

Chris Hoefflinger incorporates his past band experiences at HHS by fulfilling his role as a new student teacher. (Photo by Manya Girivasan)

As an adolescent, Hoefflinger said being in the band was a crucial part of his life. He enjoyed the unique combination of physical and musical skill the marching band required, along with the experience of being a part of the music circle. 

“It’s a great community overall,” Hoefflinger said. “We foster friendly competition and make sure that we are able to push ourselves to a standard of excellence that is unanimous across the entire program.”

After graduating, Hoefflinger went to Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, then transferred to San Jose State in 2018, where he is currently studying.

After returning to his alma mater, the student teacher said the music department has built a stronger community and reached a higher standard for excellence. He said he hopes to contribute to the growth of the music department by teaching students how to be holistic musicians.

“[I want to teach students that] they don’t just have to play their own instruments; they can sing, they can venture out into other genres of music such as jazz and world music,” Hoefflinger said. “They can be more than just instrument players.”

Hoefflinger said he hopes to cultivate a positive mindset amongst his students by presenting collaborative tasks.  

“Being in a team environment forces you to be more open to others’ ideas and to create the best product you can,” Hoefflinger said. “Overall, [it’s important to] enjoy the process and ensure that [students] can really understand how to solve a problem.”    

Returning to the music department as a student teacher has been a really rewarding experience, Hoefflinger said. 

“It has definitely been a comfort [to teach in] the program with the teacher that taught me,” Hoefflinger said. “It’s definitely a great example of giving back to the community that I have been so deeply a part of, and so it’s just great to be in this arena again.”