The Right Note

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Every weekday in 92009, students are developing talent and finding their voices at La Costa Canyon High School (LCC). The school offers opportunities for students of all backgrounds and experience levels to explore the world of music, both in the classroom and onstage. The program is constantly growing and evolving to meet the student body’s needs. Music classes and clubs are a chance for students to build both skill and confidence, while working together to create magic with their classmates. 92009 Magazine spoke with LCC Music Director Megan Ratcliff to learn more.

Q&A with Megan Ratcliff, Music Director

What music classes and programs does LCC provide?
La Costa Canyon’s music program includes Symphonic Band as the core of our program, the Maverick Brigade – which is our marching band – Jazz Band, Color Guard, Winter Percussion, Band Leadership, Pep Band, Instrumental Music – which encompasses rock band musicians – and our Digital Music Production Club.

What is your professional background? How long have you been teaching at LCC?
I attended high school at Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton, CA, then went on to complete my undergraduate degree in music education at the University of Oregon (Go Ducks!) and my teaching credential at San Diego State. I student-taught at Valhalla High School, then went on to teach at Oak Crest and Diegueno Middle Schools. I left California to teach in Oregon for several years, but was so excited when we moved back to return to SDUHSD! This is my second year at LCC.


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Name: Megan Ratcliff
Profession: Music Director, La Costa Canyon High School
Community: Carlsbad, CA
Education: Bachelor of Music in Instrumental Music Education from The University of Oregon, Teaching Credential from San Diego State University
Family: Husband Travis, son Tyler (4), and twin daughters Mia and Kate (1)
Hobbies & Interests: Traveling with my family, cooking, and visiting new museums
Favorite Spots in Carlsbad: We love to grab a pizza at Knockout and walk down to watch the sunset at the beach near Carlsbad Village!


What do you enjoy most about your role?
The students I get to interact with each day are both excellent musicians and wonderful humans. Truly, our students and staff are exceptional, and our school is a family. I feel so fortunate that I get to make music as my job! I love reaching out across campus and connecting our students to each other, and getting them involved in their community in new and different ways. Just recently, we started an All-District Parade Band to perform in the Holiday Bowl Parade, and this is a great example of new ways we can engage with the community around us.

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How has the program grown or evolved over the years?
Each year we customize our program to serve the needs and interests of the students we have. Last year, we retooled our marching program to focus on more campus involvement, and started doing parades for the first time in a long time. This year, we had a bounty of talented percussionists, so we started a Winter Percussion Ensemble. There has also been a surge in interest in digital music production, which is really exciting because it connects students to music who may never have been in band before.

What musical opportunities are available at LCC?
There is lots to do if students want to play a band instrument: symphonic band, jazz band, winter drumline, and marching band. There is also color guard for those that enjoy dance, and instrumental music for those that enjoy playing other styles of music. In our instrumental class, we have guitar players, complete rock bands, and even electronic music composers.

Are there any upcoming performances the community should look forward to?
This year, we are giving a spring concert on March 14 in the LCC Gymnasium highlighting all of our spring programs. We start at 6 p.m. with a rock concert, and continue on at 7 p.m. with Color Guard, Drumline, Jazz Band, and Symphonic Band. Our school is also doing an Arts Festival highlighting all of our school’s art programs on May 17 on LCC’s campus. It is free and open to the public, and will feature student art, performances, and food trucks.

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How many performances do you put on a year?
Our students perform constantly, because I believe performance is the greatest educational experience they need. They have to prepare constantly to perform at a high level, which keeps them on their toes and learning. We give four all-department concerts per year, plus we also participate in marching band competitions, parades, school events, district and state honor bands, rock concerts, store openings, art festivals – you name it, we probably do it.

Can you tell us a bit about the LCC Music Boosters parent organization?
The Music Boosters are really the magic that makes our programs happen. All parents with students in the program are boosters, and they work together to raise money and coordinate a huge-scale effort to make everything happen! Any given Friday or Saturday, especially in the fall, you’ll find them building, painting, sewing, grilling, moving props, and raising funds.

“Band is a family – it’s the kind of elective that feels more like a lifestyle for many of our students.”

How can the La Costa community get involved or support LCCHS music programs?
We would love to see you at a concert! We also always need donations of new or pre-loved musical instruments like electric pianos, drums, and even small items like drumsticks and paper. And if you see us out in your local parade, cheer us on!

Why is music important for students?
Band is a family – it’s the kind of elective that feels more like a lifestyle for many of our students. Not only does it promote high levels of academic thought and critical thinking skills, it also requires organization, discipline, and accountability to a group. The students must work together to make the end product happen, and in the process they make lifelong friendships. I still get together with my old band friends from school, and I hope these students make those kinds of relationships as well.

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Do you have any favorite memories or experiences from your time at LCC?
Many – too many to list. I’ll never forget that first time on the street competing in parade, and that first football game, and how far we’ve come in just that short time. We have an exceptional group in that they are now willing to try anything! I treasure the time I get to spend knowing each student and seeing them grow into young adults. It is wonderful when alumni come to visit during holidays and show our younger students how far they’ve come.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?
La Costa Canyon High School is such a treasure. What an amazing school, with really fantastic, dedicated teachers who love to invest in the lives of students. Such supportive and innovative administrators that are always up for the “what if we…” that we seem to come up with. And what warm and kind families, who are there for their students and want to build every program up to be the best that it can be. I love LCC, and I hope our students can remember their time here fondly!