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For band teacher Herb Bruce, music = fun

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Band teacher Herb Bruce likes to keep it fun for his student musicians.

Band teacher Herb Bruce likes to keep it fun for his student musicians.

Band teacher Herb Bruce likes to keep it fun for his student musicians.

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Motivational, involved and creative are just three words that describe band teacher Herb Bruce. But this could be his last year at Imagine; and what a way to end the year — with an amazing concert.

Bruce, who has been at Imagine four years, said he has never seen his players perform or act as maturely as they did at their May 13 spring show.

Bruce, 61, came to Imagine from the world of professional musicians. He and his trombone have traveled the world, from Canada and Hawaii to Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Scandinavia, England, Australia and New Zealand.

He has played at Disney World in Orlando since 1988, floating from one group to another for a while before joining the Dixieland band, The Main Street Rhythm Rascals, full time from 1998 to 2004.

Now Bruce plays as a fill-in with bands and orchestras in his spare time, gives the occasional private lesson and still plays in the Disney World Orchestra.

He plays it all: classical, jazz, salsa, rock. He also designs trombones, which he then has custom-made in a factory in Illinois. The trombones meet the special requirements of his clients.

Bruce was born and raised in Louisville, Ky. He learned to play the trombone in the fourth grade. It was his second instrument. His band teacher suggested it because Bruce had perfect pitch.

His first instrument was the cornet, a smaller version of the trumpet. It belonged to his older brother and is currently being played by ninth-grader Cassie Ford.

Altogether, Bruce has taught band for eight years. He spent two at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tn., where he was assistant marching band director and jazz band director.

He also taught band two years at Castle Heights Military Academy in Nashville. This is his fourth year at Imagine.

His wife, Patricia Dean, is a singer and drummer. She performs regularly in the area.

Bruce doesn’t have any kids of his own. But he does at school.

“I love middle school kids,” Bruce said. “They’re a blast. I think it’s because we’re all on the same level.”

Imagine has decided to eliminate its full-time band teaching job and offer two classes next year with a part-time instructor.

If he leaves, Bruce certainly will be missed by his students.

“Mr. Bruce is really nice and funny,” said Danielle Kendrick, who has been in the band all four years, “He makes us laugh every day and teaches us well. I will miss him so much. He is my favorite teacher.”

 

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