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Young Director Sees the Future in New Horizons Movement

By In Uncategorized On January 22, 2018


Kevin Cooley

Kevin Cooley, Director of the Dane County New Horizons Band

I frequently am asked by coworkers, friends and even some of my Dane County New Horizons Band members why I continue to work with our New Horizons band while handling the furor of a high school band director’s schedule. To an untrained eye my schedule looks hectic and crowded, but to me, and I imagine most band directors, it’s the dream job. I get to work with musicians, young and old, to help improve their craft.

It’s Not a Sacrifice when you are Living the Dream

My typical Thursday starts at 7:15 AM with my High School Jazz Band rehearsal. Throughout the day I’ll teach a multitude of lessons and work with my concert band while cramming paperwork and eating a quick 10-minute lunch. At 4:15 when I’ve finished my day job I race to my car, jump in and begin the 70-mile drive to my evening rehearsal with the Dane County New Horizons Band in Madison, WI. I’ll make a quick stop to pick up my wife, a clarinet player in the band, and then make it to our rehearsal site just in time to get everything set up and going.

Giving Music a Second Chance

Prior to working with the Dane County New Horizons Band, I had never heard of the New Horizons Music Association. Perhaps because I’m a young director and the idea had never crossed my mind to teach adults who have either taken off many years from playing or were starting for the first time. However, when the concept was explained to me in the early meetings prior to launching our group I was hooked immediately. What better way to advance music in America than by giving people a second chance at music?

It’s easy in K-12 education to assume that once a student drops out of music, they have been lost forever. Every band director dreads the “I’m quitting band and there’s nothing you can do to change my mind” conversation that seems to come up far more often than we’d like. It’s a rare gift that one of those students realizes before they graduate that they’ve made a mistake and rejoin band.

The New Horizons Music Association raises the ceiling on that opportunity for individuals by giving them a lifetime of opportunities to rejoin music. How could any band director not be excited by that concept?

Setting an Example and Teaching to the Future

Even more appealing is seeing the after-effect of music in adult’s careers. We have several members who did not quit but rather continued to play after high school as long as they could in college bands and ensembles, community bands, etc., before their careers took center stage. Interestingly, almost all of these individuals had fantastically successful careers in medicine, public service, upper-level management and so on and so forth.

It’s one thing to read the research about the positive affect that music has on a person’s life and it’s a different thing all together to speak with an actual person who can attest to it with their life. Even more interesting is how each of these people in our band, who by every measure have led a successful and fulfilling career, speak about how much they missed music along the way.

On many occasions, I’ve spoken about this with my high school students who have thought about quitting band, and on several occasions, it swayed their opinion. I am lucky: I am teaching kids and the future of these kids at the same time. Wow!

Nothing Short of Wonderful

I got into music education because music was such an impactful part of my life growing up that I couldn’t imagine not sharing it with others for my career. The opportunities that the Dane County New Horizons Band has given me to work with adults who still share that passion has been nothing short of wonderful.


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3 Comments

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    Tom Torr 4 WEEKS AGO

    Kevin: Thank you for you insiteful article, I intend to pass it on to our H.S. Band Director. Someone that we are attempting to get involved in N.H. Tom Torr Ohio

    Reply
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    Kathleen Wilton 3 WEEKS AGO

    Kevin is an excellent director & educator. Music education has come so far from my high school days. Our band practice is so much fun & I am still learning new music skills. Even though I didn’t major in music, it has been a continued joy to play through most of my adult life.

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    Roy Ernst 3 WEEKS AGO

    Kevin, I loved reading your message. You are absolutely an ideal New Horizons director. I wish you didn't have to drive so far. Roy Ernst

    Reply

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