Classical MPR's Teacher Feature highlights the lives and work of music teachers throughout Minnesota.
Director of Bands
Edina High School
What would you say is your primary instrument?
Euphonium. Trombone is my secondary instrument.
Where did you go to college?
I received my Bachelors of Music Education at the University of Wisconsin — Eau Claire, studying euphonium with Jerry Young, and my Masters of Music at the University of Minnesota where I studied conducting with Craig Kirchhoff.
Who or what inspired you to become a music teacher?
The list of those who inspired me is long and varied, and continues to grow. From my mother who encouraged my brothers and I to sing in the LaCrosse (WI) Boys Choir and then later march with the LaCrosse (WI) Blue Stars Drum and Bugle Corps, to my high school band directors (Rick Young and Alex Vaver) who modeled great teaching and a passion for excellence in music. But it is always the students and parents who inspire me, from my first remarkable group of students in Albert Lea who taught me so much about teaching to my amazing students and parents in Edina who sincerely and whole heartedly support music education. Other musical heroes include Leonard Bernstein and Fred Harris who is the Director of Bands at MIT.
In what ways do you try to encourage your students to appreciate and participate in music?
I try to push them to their limits to be the best players they can be, so that they might come to know the power of work ethic, commitment and artistic integrity. I constantly preach to my students that "excellence is never an accident" and "we are what we repeatedly do," so let's always strive to be the best we can be.
I love music — playing, listening, talking about, etc. I model that exuberance, insatiable curiosity, passion for music and a love for learning and 'walk the walk' everyday in hopes that it rubs off on my students.
If you were to help program a day of music at Classical MPR, what would be a piece of music you'd play in the morning? What piece of music would you play in the evening?
For the morning, I would choose Shepherd's Hey by Percy Grainger.
For the evening, I would choose Howard Hanson's Symphony No. 2.
What is it about these pieces that make them a couple of your favorites?
Grainger was such a supporter and advocate of the wind family, and bands in particular. He is such a skilled writer to exploit the many colors that wind instruments offer and he was a great ethnomusicologist and collector of folksongs. I enjoy and admire how he is on the one hand a historian, preserving folksongs and collecting them but also an inventor of new sounds and new colors by exploring all that band instruments have to offer. This piece is just rollicking fun that showcases those compositional skills.
An unabashed Romantic, Howard Hanson was also a great supporter of wind music, having written many compositions explicitly for band. He helped so many band composers and conductors advance the wind band world and he was a great supporter of young musicians. This piece can both calm the frayed nerves of a long day and rejuvenate the soul for the next day.
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