Dedicated Kansas City Music Educators Work to Revive Music Programs for Students

Music teacher Dawn Bowles believes music can help prepare students for life. 

Most schools in the Kansas City, Missouri Public School District abandoned marching bands when funds were cut a decade ago. Dawn Bowles, a Kansas City instrumental music teacher, helped create an all-city marching band in fall 2008. Bowles’s group marched at fall football games, and during the winter months, performed as a pep band at basketball games.

Bowles said band members learned music but also made friends at schools once thought rivals. “Music gives so many things to kids— teamwork, self-esteem, hope,” she added.

An MENC member, Bowles was recently placed at a KCMSD charter school, the Afrikan Centered Education Collegium Campus. She is launching a new music program there. “The kids can’t wait to get started. There is great enthusiasm for the new music program,” she said.

Danny Reid works with beginning drummers on rhythm basics.

Enthusiasm can be found in other Kansas City schools, as well, where music is returning. Danny Reid, another MENC member, teaches music at two different elementary schools, J.A. Rogers and Trailwood. He teaches woodwinds, brass and percussion.

At Trailwood recently he was working with young percussion students to perfect drumming skills. He used small challenges where students competed to see who demonstrated the best technique. “Working with these kids is great because I see progress every class. You can tell they enjoy coming to the class,” Reid said.

Osmond Fisher combines music technique instruction with a sense of history.

Osmond Fisher is another new band director in Kansas City,  currently working with students at both East and Northeast high schools. Patiently working through jazz music with his beginning students, he said students were learning fast.

“Kids really want this,” he said during a classroom break. “You can tell by how hard they work. We have an opportunity to work with them on so many levels.”

And with that he launched into a mini history lesson, telling the students about the roots of Kansas City jazz and 1940’s greats like Count Basie and Charlie Parker.

All photos by Roz Fehr

Roz Fehr, April 23, 2009. © MENC: The National Association for Music Education