NEW PALESTINE — It was a sea of red and black, along with black and gold, inside the New Palestine High School band room.

The school’s musicians, in their Dragon red T-shirts, stood shoulder to shoulder with Purdue University pep band members, dressed in Boilermaker black.

There was barely enough room for the musicians to lift their instruments to play, but they didn’t seem to mind, belting out several energetic songs.

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The New Palestine High School band is taking part in the Purdue University Partners in Music Education program. The program establishes a real connection between high school musicians and members of the Purdue University Bands and Orchestras.

Evan Cade, New Palestine senior, plays the drums. He enjoyed having college musicians in the band room.

“We’re used to having a smaller, more low-key group, and these guys just bring a different type of high-energy atmosphere,” Cade said.

The Partners in Music Program is a type of mentoring opportunity where high school musicians get to mix and mingle with college musicians during several different playing sessions.

The idea behind the program is to get high school students to understand they don’t have to be a music major in college to continue playing an instrument.

For many students, their music playing career will come to an end after high school, but it doesn’t have to be that way, educators said.

Shawn Humphries, New Palestine band director, wants his young students to think about playing an instrument in college, even if they aren’t going to major or minor in the music field.

Purdue University is a prime example of students playing for the love of music, said Max Jones, coordinator of the Partners in Music Education.

While Purdue University doesn’t offer a music major, students can take music classes. The college classes encourage students who love playing music to continue to do so after high school and be a part of a college band.

It’s important for high school musicians to see and understand that, educators said.

“The high school students get to meet real college students who have decided music is something they love and they want to keep on playing even if they’re studying engineering or are going to be an astronaut,” Jones said.

Purdue University has more than 800 students who play in one of the school’s six concert bands, two full orchestras, six jazz bands, marching band or in one of many school pep bands.

The Partners in Music Program started back in 1999 to support high school instrumental music programs and to build bridges to the future for continued participation in music.

David Prather, a sophomore flute player at Purdue enjoys coming back to local high schools, getting the chance to play and help younger musicians.

“I think it’s fun to show high school students how much more fun music can be in college,” Prather said.

The recent jam session happened before and during one of the Dragons varsity high school basketball games.

Later this semester, the concert bands will travel to the Purdue campus for a day of clinics and rehearsals with the Purdue Concert Band students and faculty.

That will be followed by a performance from the two groups in the New Palestine auditorium at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 27.

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Kristy Deer is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3262 or kdeer@greenfieldreporter.com.