This Is Carolina: Horry County music teacher taps students to complete college final

“At first they were like, are you sure you can do this? It’s a lot to take on,”
Published: May. 25, 2023 at 5:15 PM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Coastal Carolina University senior Clinton Patton loves music and helping students succeed.

Those passions sparked a unique idea for his senior class project at CCU.

“I came up with this idea of basically forming a symphony orchestra with kids from all over in Horry County and potentially even in Georgetown County,” Patton said.

The general music major then approached his professors with the unorthodox plan.

“At first they were like, are you sure you can do this, it’s a lot to take on,” he said.

But if you know Patton, you know him as “Coach Headphones” and you know his work ethic.

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He teaches music at St. James High School while running a nonprofit for kids to learn and play sports.

And, he never toots his own horn.

Once Clinton got the green light and his professors’ support, he hit the ground running.

“I spent about two months putting together the plan for everything, getting auditions together and getting information out to all the schools,” Patton said.

His well-known reputation garnered about 100 students for January’s audition to be part of the largest type of student orchestra, which is comprised of strings, woodwinds, percussion and a choir.

“Seeing so many kids come out it was very exciting, very exciting,” Patton said.

He whittled down the number to 72 of the best musicians ranging from eighth graders to seniors, for his project called, Movies That Made Me. They will play arrangements of film scores from their favorite classic Disney and Pixar movies.

“The kids are always talking about how it would be really cool if they had something like this and to play certain kind of music,” Patton said.

He admits he picked challenging pieces for the students to practice twice a week but he said he’s proud of them for never changing their tune.

“Speaking to some of them, they realize, you know, being a project of a student, them being students themselves, they understand there’s going to be some ups and downs, but they were just very supportive of the idea,” he explained.

Especially one of his conductor assistants, who’s been helping every step of the way.

“She’s been immeasurable. Honestly, this project would not have been finished without her,” he said.

“It’s a very cool experience for me. It’s something really cool to be in and now I’m head CA and it’s really cool,” Carolina Forest High School junior Olivia Odhiambo said. “He’s a great director. He’s very generous with the kids. He actually wants to see us succeed. He really loves this program and he puts his all into everything.”

Their mutual respect for each other, music and hard work has possibly turned Clinton’s senior class project into something bigger and hopefully permanent.

“I would love for this to be something that I’m able to take and say okay, we’re going to do this again. They’ve worked incredibly hard,” Clinton said. “To take the time out of their already busy schedules to put work into something like this, just for me, it’s so rewarding and stuff. So, these kids deserve all the accolades, all the support they need. I hope we fill up the auditorium because it would be really great for them.”

And for Patton.

“If I could get an ‘A’ that would be awesome. Oh man, here’s hoping.”

The Symphony Orchestra Project performs at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Myrtle Beach High School.

Clinton said he’ll also be joining the students on stage for a special performance you don’t want to miss.

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