By ROB W. ANDERSON
Students at Keys Public Schools will soon include the development of their musical talents and abilities on their homework to-do lists.
The school district has been without a band program, and it hired Doyle Burress in November to begin establishing its music curriculum.
Keys Superintendent Billie Jordan said Burress will begin his duty as band teacher in January, with the goal of having a full program ready by the 2013-2014 school year.
“He’s going to be working with the students after school starting next semester,” Jordan said recently. “We’re financing that through a grant I got through the Boys & Girls Club, and we’re using some federal after-school money. We’re not using any general fund money for that. The [Boys & Girls Club] grant will provide some band instruments. I’m applying for a grant to get more. We’ll see how that goes.”
Burress, an adjunct professor at Tulsa Community College, said students are encouraged to “obtain their own instruments” when possible. But he’s also asked community members to donate instruments to help with the formation of the program.
He’s urging everyone to exercise patience when forming expectations.
“As I told Ms. Jordan, I’m not a real big ego person, but my ego is just big enough to be successful. I really want this to be a success, and everybody seems to be going at it with the right frame of mind,” Burress said. “The student body and community seem to want it to be a success. As long as people are patient – because it can’t happen overnight. It may take two to three years. Eventually, yes, we want a full-fledged program, but the first thing we have to do is learn how to play an instrument and play them well.”
Burress was serving as the assistant band director in Coweta in 2010 when he stepped down to pursue a career in school administration. He accepted a position as assistant principal at Checotah High School for one year before returning to Coweta to serve as principal.
Burress said students at Keys will be grouped by age to help them develop the appropriate-level class for their talent level and learning ability.
“One of the things parents are going to say is, ‘My child doesn’t know anything about music or read music.’ The students who can’t read music at all will progress as fast as those who may read a little music,” he said. “The only prerequisite needed to be in the program is the determination to learn and willingness to do a little bit of work.”
Some of the instruments students will learn how to play include the trumpet, trombone, flute, clarinet, and possibly the saxophone.
“We’ll have the fifth and sixth grades in a class, the seventh and eighth grades in a class, and it’ll be ninth-graders and up in a class. I’m more concerned about dividing the students by age, because your older students will learn so much faster and they’ll be able to progress so much faster,” Burress said. “It’s like in sports and training a kid to run or block or shoot; with a younger student, you need to show them the concept several times. It also helps to keep everybody’s interest.”