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From April 17 through 19, Dayton Public Schools (DPS) celebrated the rebirth of its long-dormant instrumental music program, with Yamaha Corporation of America on hand to help make it happen.

Yamaha worked in partnership with Dayton-based Winter Guard International Sport of the Arts (WGI) and Music Education Consultants, Inc. (MEC) to bring artists and educators to a student body that has been without a band program for more than a decade. Billed as “DPS Big Gig,” the three-day event was spearheaded by Marcia Neel, senior director of education, Yamaha Corporation of America and president of MEC, which provided pro-bono support.

“Being raised in the Dayton metro area, I can remember the days when DPS had a thriving instrumental music program. Working with the district to restore this program is truly a labor of love,” explains Neel.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, April 17 and 18, over 150 middle and high school students participated in clinics provided by Yamaha Performing Artist Lamar Burkhalter, music director for the Houston, Texans, and WGI director of Winds, Wayne Markworth. On Thursday, April 19, students attended the WGI Percussion World Championship Prelims, which featured percussion ensembles from all over the country. WGI also provided students with complimentary admission to the remaining competitions which were held all across the area throughout the weekend.

“Yamaha is committed to the future of music education in Dayton,” Neel said. “Students said that being engaged in music making at this level sharpened their overall focus and increased their confidence, an outcome we are thrilled to hear.”

In addition to Yamaha, WGI, and MEC, “DPS Big Gig” had support from other members of the area’s music community, including Fred J. Miller Inc. (FJM), Hauer Music, the University of Dayton and Wright State University. Local music education majors were also on hand to sit in on the clinics and offer to coach during rehearsals. Marlene Miller, CEO of FJM, summed up the feelings of this newly-formed local consortium, “we are all in for DPS!”

“When I spoke to newly-appointed superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Lolli—herself a former elementary music teacher—she was enthused about music making and eager to expand the school system’s music programs,” said Neel. “This is the start of something truly special.

Directors who make a Difference

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