Grammys take note of Middletown High School band director

Grammy Award nominee and Middletown High Band Director Brian Endlein conducts a symphony as the students play. (Submitted photo/Appoquinimink School District)

MIDDLETOWN — He’s being mentioned in the same sentence as the word “Grammy” lately.

For musician Brian Endlein, that sounds great.

The 36-year-old Middletown High band director is a quarterfinalist for a 2019 Grammy in the Music Educator Award category after a nomination from his southern New Castle County school.

“First and foremost it’s immensely humbling for someone in my position just to be nominated in light of knowing how many quality music educators there are, and then to make it to the quarterfinals and perhaps semifinals makes it that much more moving,” he said.

“It’s also a bit surreal to be recognized so highly for something I see as just going into work and doing my job to the best of my ability each day.”

The semifinal cut will be announced in September. Mr. Endlein — Delaware’s only nominee —is vying for top honors in a field of 188 music educators.

After the initial nomination, Mr. Endlein had to submit videos of his teaching in action, along with testimonials from parents, students, administrators and colleagues.

The Appoquinimink School District described Mr. Endlein as having “a tremendous following — students, parents, peers, college professors, state-level content experts.”

Since arriving at MHS in 2011, Mr. Endlein has guided more than 150 students annually through programs including marching, jazz and symphonic band, percussion ensemble, AP music theory, music technology, indoor colorguard, and indoor drumline.

“The wide variety of programs is challenging, but what keeps it interesting every day,” he said. “While we enjoy performing on Friday nights at football games as part of a show, there’s also a very competitive element to it that takes us to many places and into different environments with (wide ranging audiences).”

Middletown High Band Director Brian Endlein is a quarterfinalist for a 2019 Grammy, the Music Educator Award.
(Submitted photo/Appoquinimink School District)

With a dedication to a craft that applies many skills relevant to 21st century employment, Mr. Endlein believes his students are learning and applying lessons to benefit them for decades to come.

“My goal as a music educator is to help students learn the benefits of long-term investment, discipline, commitment and hard work while developing their creativity, communication, critical thinking, and collaboration skills,” Mr. Endlein said.

“Fostering musical talent is as crucial today as it has ever been as our future depends on a creative generation.”

The district said “Mr. Endlein’s classroom is a place where creativity, curiosity, humor and hard work combine to fuel a passion for making great music.”

Band booster co-president Wendy Crouse described her son’s three-year experience with the Grammy nominee as “definitely amazing. He’s a wonderful musician and family man.

“When our kids get off the bus it’s in a straight line and there’s a military precision to every move after that. Kids from previous years return to help out and stay involved which I think says a lot about how they were impacted at the time.”

Mr. Endlein is a sergeant first class in the United States Army Reserve, serving as a drum major and enlisted conductor for the nationally recognized 78th Army Band, according to the district. The 2018 Middletown High Teacher of the Year had a bit part as a bugler in the Civil War film “Gods and Generals” that depicted the Battle of Gettysburg.

According to Ms. Crouse, “Mr. Endlein has a very powerful, Army style voice but he has to communicate with 125 kids at once and have them all hear the same message.

“It’s not overtly mean, it’s instructional. He has this way of getting kids to do a lot of things they might have never tried without ever making in seem like work.”

Band parent Andy Marek said Mr. Endlein “gets these students to want to do their best and that’s not easy to do.

“He has a very stern approach that’s driven by caring for the students. He challenges them to do their maximum best and they deliver.”

When it comes to his own musical tastes, Mr. Endlein said his Pandora stations range from contemporary to The Impressions to long-ago composers.

“I can honestly say that I have diverse tastes and what I’m listening to on a certain day is probably dictated by the kind of mood I’m in,” he said.

Middletown High Band Director Brian Endlein takes a selfie with band members last school year. (Submitted photo/Appoquinimink School District)

After taking viola lessons as a third-grader and “not being too keen on that,” Mr. Endlein began playing saxophone the next year and has continued to this day. He credited his North Penn High School program in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, as “very influential in my development.”

While there was “very little history of musicians in our family,” Mr. Endlein and his brother eventually both played the sax which “I think probably came as a surprise to those around us growing up.”

A West Chester University graduate (where he was recently recognized as a “Distinguished Alumni,”) Mr. Endlein migrated south to Delaware and served as William Penn High’s band director from 2004 to 2011. He’s settled into the Middletown area with his wife Erika, and children Parker (a rising third-grader) and Charlotte (a preschooler). The kids were named as a tribute to jazz legend Charlie Parker.

According to the Grammy in the Schools program, “The winner will be flown to Los Angeles to attend the 61st annual Grammy Awards in early 2019, receive the Music Educator Award at a ceremony during Grammy Week, plus pick up a $10,000 personal honorarium.

“All finalists will receive a $1,000 honorarium, while semifinalists receive a $500 honorarium.”

The Grammy Foundation extolled the importance of a music education, noting:

•Students in high-quality school music programs score higher on standardized tests compared to students in schools with deficient music education programs, regardless of the socioeconomic level of the school or school district.

•Schools that have music programs have significantly higher attendance rates than do those without programs (93.3 percent as compared to 84.9 percent).

•Schools that have music programs have significantly higher graduation rates than do those without music programs (90.2 percent as compared to 72.9 percent). In addition, those that rate their programs as “excellent or very good” have an even higher graduation rate (90.9 percent).

•The combined results of 30 studies indicate that music instruction is linked to significantly improved reading skills.

About Brian Endlein

In announcing Brian Endlein’s nomination for a 2019 Grammy Music Educator Award, the Appoquinimink School District reviewed his accomplishments, including:

• He’s developed strategic partnerships with local colleges and universities (Delaware State, Wesley College, the University of Delaware) whose music faculty help mentor and train the high school students, and recently forged a connection with local radio station WSTW which has provided real-world experience for music technology and production students.

• The Cavalier Band Program has been recognized at the highest levels, creating opportunities to perform on the national and international stage at events including the London New Year’s Day Parade, the Dunkin Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade, Arlington National Cemetery’s Centennial Taps Celebration, the Walt Disney World Festival of Music, and more.

• Groups under his direction are consistent winners in the Chapter IX Tournament of Bands region, and routinely place in the Top 10 at the prestigious Atlantic Coast Championships.

•With help from an army of parents, volunteers and community members; Mr. Endlein and his “Band Boosters” ensure that no student is excluded from participating in the band program due to economic hardship.

• In 2018, the music program at Middletown High was one of only 135 programs in the nation to be awarded the title, “School of Merit” by the NAMM Foundation. (The District was also named Delaware’s Best Community for Music Education for the third straight year by that group.)

• A member of the National Association for Music Education, Mr. Endlein has been named one of the “Top 50 High School Band Directors in America,” and was recently recognized by his alma mater, West Chester University, as a “Distinguished Alumni.”

An accomplished musician, he’s performed on CDs, on television, and even had a bit part in the film, “Gods and Generals” (as a bugler). Active in the United States Army Reserve, where he holds the rank of Sergeant First Class, he is the Drum Major and enlisted conductor for the nationally recognized 78th Army Band.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.