High school music director bids farewell

Music teacher Cameron Clarno took his final bow at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School during graduation ceremonies this month. He is moving to the Foothill High School District in Redding. Photo by Barry Sigman

Cameron Clarno ‘created a truly first-class music program,’ principal says

“During his time here, Cameron took our faltering music program from 25 students to more than 125. In doing so, he has created a truly first-class music program at the high school,” Principal Mark Swanitz said.

By Raiza Giorgi

Leaving the music program that he spent 11 years building up was the hardest decision for Cameron Clarno as he wrapped up the school year at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School.

Clarno has accepted a position as full-time music director for Foothill High School in Redding, where he will oversee programs in a district that includes three high schools of more than 2,000 students at each.

“There have been many tears shed recently as I end my time here in the valley, and I feel beyond blessed of what all my students have accomplished throughout the years. I will come back a lot, as our family lives here in the Central Coast, and will be checking in on the program here,” he said.

“During his time here, Cameron took our faltering music program from 25 students to more than 125. In doing so, he has created a truly first-class music program at the high school,” Principal Mark Swantiz said.

Clarno’s passion for music started early as his mother was in a women’s choir and he sang in his church choir and took band in elementary school while growing up in the Thousand Oaks area.

“Music has been in every culture since the beginning of time, and it’s a universal language that can bring people together, and convey expression when there are no words,” he said.

When Clarno got his first teaching job after graduating from Cal State Northridge, he was a music teacher at an elementary school in Santa Clarita, but his wife Lindsey grew up on the Central Coast and they wanted to be closer to family so he started at SYVUHS in the 2006-07 school year. His position has been part-time, and he also has been teaching music for the Buellton School District and Ballard School District.

“Some of the kids I’ve taught, I had them in elementary school and have literally guided them through the whole way. Not many teachers can say that, and I think it’s one of the things I’m most proud of,” he said.

Clarno added that through music his students learn a lot about themselves and about teamwork because they have to coordinate efforts to make music sound beautiful.

“Some of my favorite events have been our small hometown parades, playing music for our veterans at various functions like Memorial Day and Veterans Day,” Clarno said.

He credits a lot of success for the high school band to his wife, Lindsey, who had a background in instrumental music and marching band that helped students with their lines and parade technique.

“She has been the behind the scenes tour coordinator, and the kids and their parents know how hard she’s worked, but the public hasn’t and I want to give her a special thank you,” he said.

One of the highlight’s of Cameron Clarno’s time as SYHS music teacher was taking his students to perform at the Vatican.

Taking the music students on various field trips and opportunities to play in historical venues such Carnegie Hall and performing at the Vatican were highlights of his career, Clarno added.

“These are experiences they will never forget … music can take you to places so incredible … so rewarding,” Clarno said.

“The band and choir programs regularly take home top honors and prestigious music festivals. They have even gone on world a world tour, representing the United States at the World Fair in Milan, Italy, and singing evening Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. Needless to say, Cameron will be missed tremendously. His replacement will have some very big shoes to fill,” Swantiz added.

“Mr. Clarno has been an outstanding music teacher for our students, significantly growing the program during his tenure at SYHS, handling everything from choir to band to marching band. He is already missed,” added District Superintendent Scott Cory.

As Clarno prepares to make his move to northern California, he will be helping select his replacement at the high school. He said he will make every effort to find someone as passionate about music as he is.