Band teacher wins award to fund project

Published 8:30 am Friday, November 8, 2013

CJ Brooks leads the Dowagiac Marching Band in rehearsal at Dowagiac Union High School. Provided Photo

CJ Brooks leads the Dowagiac Marching Band in rehearsal at Dowagiac Union High School. Provided Photo

The band director at Dowagiac Union Schools was one of 21 teachers to win an award and assistance for a project for his classes.

CJ Brooks has directed as many as five bands each of the six years he has taught at Dowagiac.

Brooks was nominated for Honor Credit Union’s 4th Annual Teacher Award by Robin Wilson, the president of Dowagiac’s band boosters.

“Robin and I have a great working relationship. We both realize that the band is underfunded, so we often look for ways to fund programs within the band,” Brooks said.

One example of a project the band needs funding for is in the works right now. This spring, Brooks and the high school band plan to premiere a piece made specifically for their band.

“Myself and the band, we’re in the process of having a piece commissioned for us,” Brooks said. “We need $1,500 to commission the piece.”

Brooks said the band received $500 from the Dowagiac School Foundation and another $500 from the St. Denny’s Foundation to help fund the project as well.

The piece will be created by Adam Schumaker, the Director of Education at The Gilmore Festival in Kalamazoo and an adjunct professor at Western Michigan University, Brooks’s alma mater.

“It’s going to be a modernistic piece using modern techniques,” Brooks said. “The kids are going to be responsible for dictating what the title will be. The exciting thing is that it will be a piece that people will be able to purchase in the future, but we’ll be the band to premiere it.”

Brooks and 20 other teachers were chosen from 91 submissions from more than 30 schools.

“Providing local teachers and school faculty the opportunity to purchase needed materials for their classrooms that they otherwise might not have been able to obtain is just one way that Honor supports the educational community in the towns we serve,” wrote Kaylee Williams, public relations coordinator of Honor Credit Union in a press release. “From purchasing additional reading material to improving musical equipment in the band room, and so much more, Honor is proud to help the men and women who are shaping our area youth.”

This year, Brooks teaches a total of 225 students in two sixth grade bands, one seventh and eighth grade band, a marching and concert band and a jazz band.

“My job is something that I look forward to,” said Brooks, who has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in music education from Western Michigan University. “The fact that I get to work and make music with kids on a daily basis, it’s not a job to me. It’s something that I get to do that’s fun every day. The fact that I get to support myself and my family at the same time, that’s just a bonus.”