Let’s kick off summer with an interview with Dr. Rodney C. Dorsey, Director of Bands, Indiana University.
Dr. Dorsey discusses his musical upbringing, building connections with students, competition in music, and warns us of the dangers of not ordering buses for our band.
Special thanks to George Quinlan, Jr. for helping to set this interview up and for providing an interview space at Quinlan & Fabish in Burr Ridge, Illinois.
FULL BIO from info.music.indiana.edu
Rodney Dorsey was previously director of bands and conductor of the Wind Ensemble at the University of Oregon. Prior to that, he was associate director of bands at the University of Michigan, where he conducted the Concert Band and the Michigan Youth Band and taught undergraduate conducting. He served previously on the faculties of DePaul and Northwestern universities, and gained extensive experience teaching in the public schools of Florida and Georgia. Dorsey studied conducting with James Croft, John P. Paynter, and Mallory Thompson. He was a clarinet student of Fred Ormand and Frank Kowalsky. Ensembles under Dorsey’s direction have performed at several state and national events, including the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA) Regional Conference and the Bands of America National Concert Band Festival. His numerous professional memberships include the CBDNA, National Association for Music Education, Midwest Clinic board of directors, and the American Bandmasters Association.
“With most people of my generation, and the generation that preceded me, we tend to be doom and gloom because everyone isn’t doing it the way we did it . . . , no matter what people tell you, bands are better today than they’ve ever been.”
James F. Keene took a break from conducting the ILMEA All-State Honors band at IMEC 2019 to sit down with R. Scott Barnas and I to talk about adapting music for ensembles, the role of a university director of bands, and commissioning new works. Professor Keene also speaks about his experience with international outreach and talks about identifying quality literature for bands.
Special thanks to R. Scott Barnas for connecting all of us and for guest-hosting on this episode. Special thanks to the Illinois Music Education Association (ILMEA) for helping to make this interview possible at the Illinois Music Education Conference.
In 2008, Professor James F. Keene retired from the University of Illinois School of Music, where he held the titles of Director of Bands and Brownfield Distinguished Professor of Music. Appointed in 1985, he was only the fourth person to hold the Director of Bands position since 1905. During his 23-year tenure at Illinois, the UI Symphonic Band and Wind Symphony, under his direction, were selected to perform for every major music conference in the U.S., have toured internationally and have performed in many of America's most prestigious concert halls, including New York's legendary Carnegie Hall and several performances in Chicago's Orchestra Hall. The Illinois Wind Symphony and Symphonic Band have produced one of the most extensive bodies of commercial band recordings. These recordings have been broadcast on National Public Radio in the U.S., as well as radio programs in Asia, Australia, and several European countries.
Mr. Keene is a Past-President of the prestigious American Bandmasters Association and also served as Chairman of the Board of Directors. He is a Past-President of the National Band Association, having previously served in several other NBA offices, and is a Past-President of The Big Ten Band Directors Association. For several years he served as chairman of the ABA/Ostwald Composition Contest, and is currently a member of the Editorial Board of The Journal of Band Research.
In addition to membership in several professional and honorary societies, Mr. Keene is an Evans Scholar, Past-President of the Champaign Rotary Club, and a Paul Harris Fellow of the Rotary International Foundation. In 1993, Professor Keene was named as an honorary member of the Board of Directors of the International Percy Grainger Society in recognition of his devotion to the music of Grainger and he also serves on the Board of Directors of the John Philip Sousa Foundation and the historic Goldman Memorial Band of New York City. Prior to his appointment at Illinois, Professor Keene taught at all levels, including building nationally recognized programs at East Texas State University (now Texas A and M-Commerce), and at The University of Arizona.
In 2002, Professor Keene was named Honorary Life Member of the Texas Bandmasters Association, becoming only the sixth person to be so honored in the 55-year history of that organization. He is in constant demand as conductor, clinician and adjudicator and has appeared in those capacities in forty-four states and on five continents. In 2009, Professor Keene conducted in Australia, China and Europe, in addition to a busy schedule of appearances in the United States.
Dr. Melissa Gustafson-Hinds was gracious enough to sit down for an interview at our recent Illinois Music Education Association State Conference. Dr. Gustafson-Hinds speaks about how she handles working with students that might move in or out of her school, balancing a schedule that includes band, choir, winter guard, jazz, and a family, and her goals of doing “all the things.”
Check out FloMarching’s feature on O’Fallon Township during the band’s recent BOA Grand National Championship Semi-Finals speech (which was filmed before they knew they would be performing in their first ever BOA Grand National Championship Finals later that night).
Special thanks to Rachel Maxwell for connecting us and co-hosting this episode.
Melissa Gustafson-Hinds is originally from Monmouth, Illinois. Melissa attended Illinois State University, earning a Bachelor's in music education. While at ISU, she played oboe and English horn in the Wind Symphony, Symphonic Band, Symphonic Orchestra, and Chamber Winds. In addition, Melissa was a drum major for the "Big Red Marching Machine" for five consecutive years.Melissa taught for four years for Unit 5 Schools in Normal, Illinois, where she instructed all levels of instrumental music. During this time, she earned her Masters in Music Education at the University of Illinois.Her next teaching position was at Belleville Township High School - West, where she instructed Chorus, Concert Band, Instrumental Music, and Marching Band.From 2001-2003, Melissa was the music director at Centralia High School, in Centralia, Illinois, where she instructed Concert Choir, Symphonic Band, The Marching Showcase, Centralia Winterguard, Flute Choir, Jazz Band, and Pep Band. In 2002, Melissa earned her Type 75-General Administrative Endorsement from SIUE.From 2003-2008, Melissa was the band director at Collinsville High School, instructing the Marching Band, Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band, Pep Band and Flute Choir. Currently, Melissa is the band director at O'Fallon Township High School and is looking forward to many years of providing excellent music education to the band students of OTHS. In 2010, she earned her Doctorate in Teaching and Learning, emphasis in Music Education from the University of Missouri St. Louis. She is also helping to create the O'Fallon United Community Music School to provide music education to the 5th-8th grade students of O'Fallon District 90.
Happy Belated New Year! My colleague R. Scott Barnas and I had the opportunity to sit down with Professor Gary Smith at the Midwest Clinic. We also had the pleasure of having a “party-crasher” show up; Dr. Cody Birdwell from the University of Kentucky was a welcome surprise to this interview.
Professor Smith talks about growing up in an arts family, his teaching career, favorite pieces of music, The System, and reflects on some of his highlights with the University of Illinois Bands. Dr. Birdwell reflects on teaching together with Professor Smith and how they worked together as colleagues to provide the best musical experiences for students.
Special thanks to Washington Junior High and Joliet All-City Band director R. Scott Barnas for facilitating this meeting and interviewing our guests!
Gary E. Smith
From the University of Illinois Band Page:
BA, Butler University; MA, Ball State University
From 1976 to 1998 and again in 2004, Gary was the Associate Director of Bands at the University of Illinois, Urbana - Champaign, where he conducted the nationally famous Marching Illini, Basketball Band, Symphonic Band II, and taught marching band procedures and band arranging in the School of Music.
Previously he served as Assistant Director of Bands and Marching Band Director at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana, Director of Bands at Saint Joseph's College in Rensselaer, Indiana, and Director of Bands at Northside High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In 1988 Gary was elected to membership in the prestigious American Bandmasters Association. In addition, he is a member of Phi Beta Mu, Phi Mu Alpha, and Kappa Kappa Psi music honorary fraternities and participates in the College Band Director's National Association, National Band Association, and the Illinois Music Educators Association.
Recent awards include the University of Illinois Alumni Association "Outstanding Educator", the Mary Hoffman “Outstanding Music Educator”, the "Spirit of the Illini" from the University of Illinois Athletic Association and the Kappa Kappa Psi Distinguished Service to Music Medal.
Gary has served as a consultant, guest conductor and clinician throughout the United States, Singapore, China, Australia, Japan, Canada, Ireland and France. In addition, he is the coordinator of the pre-game, halftime and parade festivities for the Chick-Fil-A Bowl (formerly the Peach Bowl) and assisted with the production of the 2005 Orange Bowl Halftime. In 2007, Gary served as co director of the Oklahoma Centennial All State Marching Band, which was be featured during the 2007 Rose Bowl Parade opening ceremonies. Presently he serves as the producer of the annual DISNEY THANKSGIVING PARADE OF BANDS held at Disney World in Orlando, FL. and head clinician for the 2011 Marching Band Directors and Drum Major Clinic in Singapore
Smith is former owner and director of the Smith Walbridge Clinics for drum majors, flags, rifles, marching percussion, marching band student leaders and directors. Since 1949, these clinics have attracted thousands of high school and college students from across the United States and several foreign countries.
Several of his articles have been published in The Instrumentalist, The School Musician and the Band Director's Guide. This guide, The System, "Marching Band Methods," is used as a textbook in several University marching band courses and marching band clinics.
Dr. John Cody Birdwell
From the University of Kentucky Fine Arts Page:
Dr. John Cody Birdwell is Director of Bands at the University of Kentucky, where his duties include conducting the University of Kentucky Wind Symphony, directing graduate programs in wind-band conducting, teaching graduate courses in instrumental conducting, history and literature, and supervising the administration of the University of Kentucky band program in the School of Music. Prior to his appointment at the University of Kentucky, Dr. Birdwell served as Director of Bands at Texas Tech University, Director of Bands at Utah State University, Assistant Director of Bands at the University of Illinois, and Director of Bands at Northern Michigan University.
Dr. Birdwell's ensembles have toured extensively throughout the United States, China, and Great Britain, and the University of Kentucky Wind Symphony was recently selected to perform at the 2013 National Convention of the College Band Directors National Association. Ensembles under Dr. Birdwell's direction have also performed at numerous CBDNA national and division Conferences, and have also performed for the Kentucky Music Educator’s Association, Texas Music Educators Convention, Texas Bandmaster's Association Convention, and the Utah Music Educators Association. In 2008 the UK Wind Symphony toured the People’s Republic of China, and performed to capacity audiences in the cities of Suzhou, Yangzhou, Changzhou, and Beijing.
Birdwell has collaborated with and premiered works by a variety of celebrated artists, conductors, and composers including Arturo Sandoval, Michael Colgrass, Luis Serrano Alarcon, Tim Reynish, Frederick Fennell, Dan Welcher, Donald Grantham, John Mackey, Anthony Barfield, Bob Mintzer, Mike Mower, and Adam Gorb. Several compact discs, including the University of Kentucky Wind Ensemble “Distilled in Kentucky – Premieres from the Bluegrass State”, and “GO! – The Music of Bob Mintzer”, along with the Texas Tech University Symphonic Wind Ensemble “LIVE!" and “Diversions” have received acclaim from composers and conductors throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia.
Dr. Birdwell is an elected member of the prestigious American Bandmasters Association and holds degrees from The University of North Texas and West Texas A&M University.
Dr. Birdwell serves as President-Elect President of the College Band Directors National Association Southern Division, and holds memberships in the College Band Directors National Association, National Band Association, Kentucky Music Educators Association, National Association for Music Education, Phi Beta Mu, Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association, Kappa Kappa Psi and Phi Mu Alpha. He remains active as a guest conductor, clinician and adjudicator throughout the United States and abroad.
Going out of town for Thanksgiving? Our interview with Robert Herrings would make for great listening on that long car ride. Robert has some fantastic advice about objectives in band, what new teachers should do when they don’t know what to do, and programming for every kid in your ensemble.
Mr. Herrings has hands down one of the most impressive bands I have heard. The intro and outro music is Robert’s band performing Candide Suite: The Best of All Possible Worlds arranged by Clare Grundman and Grainger’s Shepherd’s Hey, respectively. You can also search Henry Middle School Band on Youtube for more impressive video and recordings from Robert Herrings and the Henry Middle School Band.
Special thanks to Chip De Stefano for the connection and for co-hosting this interview.
“The biggest shoes you have to fill are your own.”
Robert Tyrome Herrings, III is entering his fifteenth year of teaching and has been teaching at Henry Middle School in Leander ISD since 2004. Prior to coming to Leander ISD, he was the Director of Bands at Rockdale Junior High in Rockdale, Texas.
In 2003, Mr. Herrings received his Bachelor of Music Education degree from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where he studied under Michael Haithcock, Jeff Grogan, Dr. Kevin Sedatole and Barry Hopper. While in college, Mr. Herrings was a member of the Baylor University performing wind bands, as well as a member of the Baylor University Golden Wave Band.
At Henry Middle School, Mr. Herrings conducts the Honors Band, assists with the Symphonic Band, Concert Band and beginning trombone class. He also teaches beginning flute and trumpet. Mr. Herrings’ bands have consistently received UIL Sweepstakes ratings, as well as unanimous first division ratings, Best In Class, and Overall Outstanding Band honors at festivals around the state. In 2009-2014, the program at Henry earned distinction as a National Wind Band Honors Class AA winner, and in 2008 and 2013, the Henry Middle School Honors Band was selected to perform at the Western International Band Clinic in Seattle, Washington. The program was named the 2010, 2014 and 2018 TMEA Class CCC Honor Band and was also selected to perform at the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic in 2010, 2012, and 2016. In June 2011, Mr. Herrings and his program were awarded the prestigious John Philip Sousa Foundation Sudler Silver Cup Award, and in July of the same year, Mr. Herrings was named the Phi Beta Mu Outstanding Young Bandmaster of the Year. In 2013, the Texas Chapter of the American School Band Director’s Association awarded the Artie Henry Middle School Band the Outstanding Band Program Award. The Percussion Ensemble at Henry Middle School was selected to perform at the 2014 Percussive Arts Society International Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana. Most recently, the Henry Middle School Band Program was named the Texas Bandmasters Association's Exemplary Middle School Program of the Year for 2018.
An active clinician and adjudicator around the state, Mr. Herrings is a member of the Texas Music Educators Association, Texas Bandmasters Association and the Texas Music Adjudicators Association. Mr. Herrings also serves as the TMEA Region 32 Middle School Band Chair, as well as the Region 32 TBA representative. He is also a mentor to new-to-profession teachers at Henry Middle School.
Mr. Herrings enjoys motivating young musicians to achieve the highest level of performance by sharing his extreme love and passion for music with them on a daily basis. He feels honored, privileged and extremely blessed to have a loving mother and grandmother, many great mentors, band directors and close friends who have influenced his career thus far.
Above all, his students have been his greatest inspiration!