Classical MPR's new Teacher Feature highlights the lives and work of music teachers throughout Minnesota.
Director of Bands
Brainerd High School
Who or what inspired you to become a music teacher?
To be honest, I have no idea what I would do if I weren't a band director. I have known what I wanted to do since I was in 9th grade. My father was a high school band director and he was a huge influence on me. I have been around bands my entire life. My first memory in this world includes sousaphones! I guess it is just in my blood.
Where did you go to college?
Gustavus Adolphus College (St. Peter, Minn.) '07
What would you say is your primary instrument?
What classes do you teach?
I teach 10, 11 and 12 graders. I conduct the Brainerd High School (BHS) Jazz Ensemble I, which meets everyday as an "early bird" class; BHS Jazz Ensemble II, which is an after-school activity; BHS Concert Band, which is open to all grade 10 to 12 instrumentalists; BHS Wind Symphony, which is the top auditioned band; and AP Music Theory. The high school also offers two 9th-grade bands and another auditioned band called Symphonic Band.
In what ways do you try to encourage your students to appreciate and participate in music?
The act of making music alone is enough for most students to develop a love of music. It is truly the music that makes the difference, not the teacher. The rest of the students just want to see that it is okay for them to love it. All I can do as a teacher is show them my own love for the art form and give them the tools and the knowledge to be successful in their own musical lives. Like all things worthwhile in life, the student must then go out and get it. They will always be rewarded for their efforts.
How does music education help or enhance other curricular areas?
I get this question often and I have to be honest, I believe it is the wrong question. The scientific research on the benefits of music education on math and reading scores is well documented. It is true that the study of music will improve your brain in many ways, some of which lead to increased aptitude in other curricular areas.
However, we do not require students to read Shakespeare so that they will be better in science. We require it because an understanding of Shakespeare makes us more complete human beings. The benefits that students experience in other curricular areas as a result of a quality music education are side effects only. Great and wonderful side effects, but side effects nonetheless.
The true benefits of a quality music education are an understanding of a great art form and the joy that is experienced when you are a part of a community built to create it. We study music because it makes us more complete human beings. The same is true for math, science, literature, government, social studies, physical education, economics, painting, dance, and all subjects of the arts and letters. All of these subjects are necessary and justifiable on their own merits. Music is no exception.
In short, I am happy that music education helps and enhances other curricular areas, but I am thrilled that it helps and enhances the lives of my students.
Do you participate in music outside the classroom?
I am principal trumpet and assistant conductor with the Heartland Symphony Orchestra, a local community orchestra based in Brainerd and Little Falls, Minn. I also stay active performing with the Lakes Area Music Festival in the summer, and I play jazz any time anyone will listen.
If you were to host an on-air program at Classical MPR, what would be the first piece of music you'd play?
Gustav Holst, First Suite in E Flat.
What is it about the piece that makes it one of your favorites?
It is one of the truly great pieces in the literature. Every time I hear the first movement "Chaconne," I am speechless for a minute or two.
Listen to Classical MPR in the Brainerd Lakes area on KBPR 90.7 FM.
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As part of Classical MPR's educational programming, we are highlighting the lives and work of music teachers throughout Minnesota.
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