DC names new marching band director

Leahy has drum and bugle corps background

By JACK PALMER palmer@crescent-news.com Published:

Seeking an energetic and creative music professional to serve as its newly created position of director of bands, Defiance College has hired an accomplished percussionist with a formidable drum and bugle corps background.

Bridget Leahy, a graduate of Iowa State University, will join the DC faculty on a part-time basis in January while she completes her master's degree in percussion performance at Indiana University. She will become full time in May.

"I'm very excited about this new opportunity," she said in a phone interview Wednesday. "Everyone at Defiance College has been really supportive of this new marching band. It's great to see a school adding a new music program rather than cutting one."

"I am delighted that Bridget has agreed to become the first-ever marching band director at Defiance College," said school president Mark Gordon. "The inauguration of our marching band is a significant step forward for the entire DC community and we look forward to many years of even more wonderful entertainment, music and spirit on campus."

As director of bands, Leahy will work with director of music programs Andrew Schultz to continue to cultivate new music opportunities for DC students.

In addition to directing the marching band and school pep band, she will teach music courses for general education and music minor students, help develop new music ensembles and be heavily involved in new student recruitment. She will also likely be involved with the Defiance College Community Band and provide support for the DCCB Big Band Sound and the new DC Strings program.

"I am looking forward to having someone with Bridget's vision, talent and energy to start this unique marching band," said Schultz. "I was impressed with how comfortable she was with the scatter-style marching band, her excitement with creating an entirely new performing group, and her willingness to adapt to new ideas."

Similar in many ways to current bands at Columbia, Harvard and Stanford universities, the scatter-style concept is distinctive in spirit with a commitment to excellence and fun -- sometimes with considerable mayhem and wit added to its "scatter formations."

Leahy said she will be recruiting brass, woodwind and percussion players as well as majorettes, flag corps members and field conductors.

"I have my own ideas for the band, but ultimately its look will be determined by the make up of the instrumentation and the creativity of the students. The band will probably come in a week before school starts to learn how to play with each other and practice the show for the first game."

College officials believe Leahy's experience with percussion and marching music will prove very useful in launching the school's marching band next fall.

She marched three seasons and served on the instructional staff with the Colts Drum and Bugle Corps, an Iowa-based drum corps that regularly places among the top 15 drum corps at the Drum Corps International World Championships. She has taught and consulted with numerous high school marching bands, including the highly-touted Carmel (Ind.) High School band. She also has extensive experience with a variety of percussion ensembles, including Brazilian, Afro-Cuban and marimba.

She was a member of Iowa State's indoor drumline and named by the school as the outstanding senior by the music department faculty.

"I will be working very closely with area high school music educators in the recruiting process," said Leahy. "I plan to attend OMEA (Ohio Music Educators Association) conference in February. I am very excited to come to Defiance and meet new people."

"As we expand our music programs even further, we should also take a moment to express our continuing gratitude to Dr. Richard Stroede and Dr. Vince Polce for all they did during their lives to strengthen the music programs at DC," said Gordon. "Our new marching band is a fitting tribute to their memory as well."

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