News Stories, Newspaper Writing, Sample Work

Collinsville educator gets another chance to conduct

Published in the 9/14/10 issue of the Suburban Journals

Collinsville educator gets another chance to conduct
Retired music teacher to lead band in November

Bruce Hawkins said he got the best going away present imaginable for a music teacher when he retired from Collinsville schools last year: A published piece of music dedicated to his years of service.

“It is one of the most thrilling, memorable things anyone has done for me, and I’ve had a lot of thrilling moments in my 35 years,” said Hawkins, who led the middle school band for two decades.

Hawkins is now scheduled to conduct a band performing the piece, called “Fanfare and Triumph,” at the Illinois Music Educator Association annual conference in November. He’s been asked to serve as guest conductor during the event in Peoria.

Composer James Swearingen, who has written hundreds of songs for school concert bands, inked the piece after being approached by band parents who wanted to honor Hawkins.

“I tried to write a piece reflecting the joy his students and band parents have experienced,” Swearingen said. “It is a celebratory piece reflecting on the wonderful career of Bruce Hawkins, a career that shows his dedication to his students.”

The tune is written for beginning musicians. The first page of the sheet music says the work is dedicated the Hawkins “for his devotion to the band students and (to) the impact he has made in their lives.”

The Collinsville Middle School band performed the song last year – the last time Hawkins conducted the band before his retirement.

“Every teacher needs to experience what I got to experience with my students and band parents,” Hawkins said.

The November concert will feature students from across the state. Hawkins said he’s excited about conducting again.

“The most enjoyable experience is to see a kid develop,” Hawkins said. “As a band director, I was the only one that was going to be teaching them band skills and I had some very strong bands.”

The band students and parents offered years of support to foster the growth of music in the district, Hawkins said, which is why he intends to have his former students sign his personal copy of “Fanfare and Triumph.”

“It’s not so much what they did for me but that they thought that much of me to do this,” Hawkins said.

– Shannon Philpott


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