The conductor may have dropped the baton, but music hasn’t stopped at Douglas High School.
Marching band students volunteered for eight-hour practices Thursday and today to try and make up the time lost when former Music Director Bill Zabelsky suddenly quit for the same job at Carson High School.
“You can’t fault them for their enthusiasm,” Douglas Principal Marty Swisher told band parents on Wednesday. “We have great kids, and together we are trying to rebuild this program.”
About 50 parents and students gathered in the high school commons to talk about the band’s future.
“I’ve had a couple of people come up to me and say ‘You’ve destroyed that music program,’” Swisher said. “But at the end of the day one person isn’t the program. The program is about the kids. No matter if they win a bunch of trophies or no trophies, if they feel good about what they’ve done, and make the kind of relationships that kids make in band, then this program is a success.”
Swisher said it has been a hectic week since Zabelsky sent an e-mail with his resignation, and then seven minutes later to the rest of the high school staff.
“But I’m over that,” he said. “I’ve met with Zabelsky a few times and we parted ways as amicably as possible, and now I’m in a much better place. But I won’t lie to you, he left us in the lurch.”
With the help of Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School band director Tammy Owens, Swisher said the band will be able to get under way.
However, Owens’ help will be temporary. Swisher said she wasn’t interested in the high school band directorship.
Owens will help prepare a plan for the first 2-3 weeks of school. Also coming to the band’s aid is professional musician and former Tiger drum major Andy Martin. Martin served as a substitute for Zabelsky and should be available to help by mid-September.
Swisher said the Jazz Band will go forward, but said it’s too early to tell if the Madrigals will get a separate period from choir. He said there are 21 students signed up for choir and only eight qualified for Madrigals.
The school district is advertising for an 80 percent position at the high school.
“We hope to have it at 100 percent at some point,” Swisher said. “But I’m not going to hire someone who isn’t qualified and is not a quality person. I don’t know who that person is. Whoever it is may come from Ohio, or they may come from Sparks.”
Swisher said he is conducting an inventory of the band equipment. He said he hasn’t found anything major missing.