Mount Pisgah welcomes new orchestra director

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Aida Yarbou, Staff Reporter

Mount Pisgah Christian School has welcomed Nicholous Emmanual Wheeler as a new orchestra director and middle school cross country coach. 

The youngest of four, Wheeler was born in New Jersey and moved to Detector, Georgia in 1995.

He grew up in Atlanta and went to the Dekalb School of Arts. Wheeler said that growing up in a family of three other siblings, they couldn’t afford private lessons and when they did, they were only every couple months. However, that didn’t stop him from getting a wide variety of musical talent. 

“When I got to fifth grade, the orchestra teacher from my local Middle School came and they asked ‘Hey, do you play musical instruments?’ said Wheeler. “And I said, ‘No.’ … ‘But, oh… we don’t have enough violas. How about the viola?’ ‘Okay.’ So I started learning the viola in fifth grade.” 

In addition to the viola, he also learned to play the trombone and violin throughout his childhood.

He picked up playing the piano and bassoon while attending college at Columbus State University.

He played his first professional performance with a string bass at Video Games Live 2013 only after two weeks of learning to play the instrument.

Wheeler’s wide range of musical talent, has allowed him to play along with a few other artists such as Lauren Daigle, Amy Grant, Annie Moses Band, and Big Daddy Weave.

Not only does he know how to play many instruments, he also composes his own music. 

“I’ve composed for orchestra, choir, and chamber ensemble. Even one film score to my credit,” says Wheeler. “I was set to make my international debut as composer at the São Paulo Contemporary Composers Festival this October… But thanks to COVID-19…, it’s been delayed until next year.”

Some of his favorite pieces to listen to and compose are slower and calmer music. 

“You get to be a lot more expressive,” says Wheeler. “And it really shows the power and the intimacy you have with your instrument, and you bring out a lot more emotion now. Not saying fast pieces bad, but I’ve always found slower pieces to be a lot more expressive and intimate.”

  Wheeler has been using his skills to teach for the past 10 years at different schools such as Barely Lake in Gwinnett County and as a fifth grade teacher at the Marietta Center for Advanced Academics. 

“I also taught at Henry Springs, Sweet Apple Elementary,” says Wheeler. “And then my longest stretch was at Kings Ridge for seven straight years, and that was from 2012 to 2019. However, my first job out of college was bagging groceries at Kroger, and I also worked in the meat department.”

In addition to music, he also coaches the middle school cross country team.

“In high school I did track and field, and my main event was the mile,” states Wheeler. “I was not a sprinter at all, could not do it, anything less than a 400, I would not run. I don’t care how short it was I would not run it. So my race was the mile. Not super fast but I think a 5.20 is good enough.”

COVID-19 hasn’t affected Wheeler’s class “too badly, besides a few virtual students since orchestra players don’t need to use their own air, unlike band,” he says. “And I have fallen right  into place because Mount Pisgah reminds me so much of Kings Ridge.

“I love the atmosphere and culture,” Wheeler says. “I love how you get a lot of family support here and, of course, the students are fantastic to work with.”