Not many good things have come from COVID. For many of us, it’s changed our lives for the worse. We’ve had our share of closures, cancellations, and lost seasons. But there is one thing that COVID brought to our campus that we’re very thankful for: Dr. Malcolm Jones.
Casteel has been fortunate to land coaches and teachers that others schools covet. The man behind Casteel’s band is no different. Dr. Jones found his way to Casteel through a random job search. In the winter of 2020, Dr. Jones was preparing to interview for some University jobs when Covid struck. Many of those searches were halted or cancelled. Dr. Jones found himself at a crossroads and decided to reach out to public schools as an option. Because of his qualifications he could be picky, and fortunate enough for us, we were his choice.
Dr. Jones began playing trombone in the 5th grade. He played through high school and began to develop an appreciation and love for music. In the beginning of his junior year he started thinking about what he wanted to do with his life. He knew he loved playing music and enjoyed his section leader role in the band. This led to the monumental decision to study music education.
Dr. Jones just defended his dissertation and is receiving his Doctorate of Musical Arts. It’s been his goal for the past 12 years, ever since he started as an undergraduate student at the University of Akron. Dr. Jones research revolved around diversity, not only the conductor conducting the ensembles, but also “diversity in the in the repertoire bands choice of play”. Dr. Jones commissioned 6 new works for bands from underrepresented communities and also wrote performance guides to go along with them, so “future directors have a study guide to start from”. Eventually these 6 works will be the soundtrack to a children’s book Dr. Jones is writing that will focus on a student’s first experience ever hearing a concert band.
When asked about his biggest obstacle facing taking over the job at Casteel, he shared, “Honestly, the biggest obstacle about Casteel is starting a new job in the middle of a pandemic. A lot of what we do in band and as teachers is create relationships with students. That can’t happen as much online. Luckily, because Casteel is a 7-12 school, I am afforded the opportunity to watch the students grow for 6 years.”
I know many of us are excited to watch Dr. Jones grow the program over the next 6 years – and for many, many more years to come.
PHOTO CREDIT TO ARIANNA GRAINEY