New band director takes over at Dowagiac Union Schools
Published 8:00 am Tuesday, June 9, 2015
A fresh face awaits the new and returning members of the Dowagiac Union Schools Marching Band as they begin their week-long training this week.
Incoming band director Justin Makarewicz officially began his career with the district this week in style, heading up this year’s band camp program, which began Tuesday morning. Makarewicz takes over the position from former director C.J. Brooks, who announced his resignation after seven years with the district in order to pursue a teaching position overseas.
Makarewicz is a native of Michigan’s east coast, growing up in Shelby Township just outside Rochester. He first joined the school band in seventh grade, playing trumpet. At the time, band was one of several activities he was involved with at school, along with soccer, basketball and golf, he said.
Graduating from Eisenhower High School in 2010, Makarewicz began studying music at Western Michigan University that fall after receiving a scholarship from the institution, he said. It was not long into his stay there that he truly fell in love with music, and began to focus his attention primarily on that, he said.
“Once those other things dissipated, and I got more heavily involved in marching band, that’s when I realized it was more than just a hobby — it was something I could do the rest of my life and enjoy it,” Makarewicz said.
Becoming a drum major with the university’s marching band his sophomore year, he became quite familiar with teaching and leading his band mates, he said. He then decided to parlay this experience into his studies, and began taking courses on music education, he said.
A recent graduate of the university, Dowagiac was the first school district that Makarewicz applied for a position at. While looking into quality of the music program in the district, Makarewicz said he felt it would be a good fit for him, given the investment that many of its residents have in the success of its music students.
“The Dowagiac program is such a point of pride in the community,” Makarewicz said. “It’s a small enough city that everyone gets a taste of it.”
Makarewicz, who said he just moved into the city this weekend, is excited to hit the ground running as band director, he said. As the new leader of the middle and high school bands, he wants to focus not just on the minutia of creating beautiful music, but on the overall experiences that band presents to students, he said.
“Music is a way of life, and that’s how I approach it,” Makarewicz said. “It’s something fun, and you’re going to be involved with it somehow, perhaps for the rest of your life.”