April 10, 2003
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Seniors end year on musical note

YSHS senior Elizabeth Firestone, playing in music class on Tuesday. The school’s band and orchestra concert next Tuesday will feature 18 seniors, many of whom will perform solos.


When Yellow Springs High School senior Brian Mayer built a xylophone out of PVC pipes, one could guess that the rest of his instrument collection would be expansive, and diverse.

Since his first music experience in the fourth grade playing the recorder before school at 7:45 a.m., he has had plenty of time and encouragement to seek out an array of antique, international and recycled musical toys to satisfy his curiosity. His interest started with the Yellow Springs music program.

This spring the Yellow Springs High School music department will be losing the largest group of musicians in at least 10 years. But the community will gain a chance to see them featured as soloists in a senior concert with the full band and orchestra on Tuesday, April 15, 7:30 p.m., at the high school.

Of the 18 seniors performing, four are planning on majoring in music at their respective universities, which is also the largest number of expected music majors coming out of one class in a decade. And one, Mayer, plans on studying wind instrument repair in Redwing, Minn.

The summer after his first year in high school Mayer worked with band director Mike Ruddell to oil, adjust and repair the brass and woodwind instruments after a year’s worth of hard use by the students.

“Shirley Mullins gave me a melophone, a simplified marching French horn, from the 1940s that was originally owned by Kieth Howard,” Mayer said. “When she gave it to me it was black and gross looking.” But Mayer soon restored it to touchable, even playable, condition.

After that, Mayer began searching at flea markets for used and broken trumpets, horns and guitars to see if he could render them musical again. As he fixed them, he started trying to play them all, and found he had a knack for picking up new instruments and running with them.

But he chose to focus on the French horn as his main instrument. He and Drew Breckner, another senior French horn player, will solo in the “Concerto for Two Horns” by Handel with the band next week.

Senior string players Aaron Dozeman and John Grubbs got support through the music program in Mills Lawn School as well. Dozeman started on the violin when he was 5, and Grubbs took up the cello in the fifth grade. As they got older, they were asked to play for both private and community functions, earning some money performing at Street Fairs and at weddings.

“There’s a lot of musical opportunities around town,” Dozeman said.

And there are outlets for serious musicians in neighboring communities, too. Both students sit second chair in their respective sections in the Dayton Youth Philharmonic Orchestra. In addition, Dozeman has played for the Cedarville University Orchestra and the Antioch Community Orchestra, while Grubbs has played for the Southwest Regional Orchestra.

Dozeman and Grubbs are putting on a full-length concert together for their senior projects. The concert will include a Beethoven duet, Bach duets and a Haydn trio with sophomore Tina Chen.

Having received much support from the community, both are planning on entering the music school at Miami University in the fall. Dozeman will perform as a soloist in Mozart’s “Violin Concerto No. 3” with the YSHS orchestra next week.

Senior Jennifer Gordon, who sings in the choir, received a voice scholarship to attend Wittenberg University in the fall.

Other seniors soloing in next week’s concert include Andy Chen, performing Mendelssohn’s “Piano Concerto No. 2” with the orchestra; Jennifer Starbuck in “Sing, Sing, Sing” with the choir; and Elizabeth Firestone and Alice Schils performing Vivaldi’s “Concerto Grosso.”

—Lauren Heaton

Music dept. buys new instruments
The Yellow Springs High School music program got a much needed boost this year when it bought 17 new instruments.
Using some of the funds the school district received when it sold the Morgan Building last year, the music department spent $40,000 to purchase three violins, three basses, a viola, a baritone saxophone, two oboes, three French horns, a bassoon, a tuba, a new drum set and a bass guitar and amplifier, YSHS orchestra conductor Yvonne Wingard said.
Most of the instruments in the music program are 30 years old, she said, and the department’s annual budget of $2,500 does not allow for the purchase of instruments.
“String instruments can sort of be repaired indefinitely, but wind instruments tend to rot,” Wingard said.
In January, the music department also received an anonymous donation of $10,000, which has not yet been appropriated for a specific purchase or project.
“We were hoping to use it to fix up the big room because the ventilation system is so bad in there,” Wingard said of the school’s music room.

—Lauren Heaton