New band director at the helm of Dover High School

New Dover High School band director Garrett George leads his musicians through a series of warmup songs during Friday’s rehearsal. He will debut with the marching band Friday night when the Senators’ football team plays host to Baltimore Polytechnic Institute at 7:30. (Delaware State News photo by Dave Chambers)

New Dover High School band director Garrett George leads his musicians through a series of warmup songs during Friday’s rehearsal. He will debut with the marching band Friday night when the Senators’ football team plays host to Baltimore Polytechnic Institute at 7:30. (Delaware State News photo by Dave Chambers)

DOVER — The Dover High School marching band has only a few rehearsals left before the football’s team first home game on Friday.

For 24-year-old Garrett George, it will be first for him as the band’s new director.

“It’s a great feeling,” Mr. George said. “I’m a graduate of Dover High and was in the band too. It’s been a whirlwind.”

He hopes to maintain the legacy and tradition that former band director Lenny Knight left behind.

“I hope I can build on these traditions,” Mr. George said. “We have such a rich history here and I just want to continue to maintain that. Mr. Knight built something special here.”

After eight years as Capital School District’s band director Mr. Knight left to take an assistant band director job at Delaware State University.

Under his leadership, the band performed at venues across the state and in performances for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the Philadelphia 76ers.

Despite the large shadow that his predecessor cast, Mr. George said he doesn’t feel any pressure at all.

“I think it’s less pressure and more responsibility,” Mr. George said. “I just want to uphold the traditions that were set before me.”

Student leaders were on a committee that interviewed six other candidates for the job.

At first, Jake Scheir, a senior and section leader of the trumpets, thought the move to a new director would be a tough transition for the band.

“I thought it was going to be scary because Mr. Knight was like our mentor,” Jake said.

“But when he came in he was really nice. The spirit and effort is here so I think we will be fine.”

Mr. George shared the same sentiment.

“I know that everyone was worried that a new person would come in and change all the traditions of the school,” Mr. George said.

“But this a great position for me. There are some new traditions, but there are a lot of traditions that are here when I was here. But there are some that have disappeared and I can bring those back.”

He hopes to add more musical elements to the band.

“When I was at the University of Delaware I experienced a totally different style,” Mr. George said.

“There are different types of moves during the halftime show. There are a lot of common areas, but there are a lot of different things as well.”

“As a long- and short-term goal I hope to bring some of the musical elements I learned at UD to the program, not to replace traditions, but build upon it,” Mr. George added.

Philip Potvin, a senior who plays the trumpet for the band, said Mr. George approach has been beneficial.

“It hasn’t been a hard transition because he hasn’t changed anything,” Philip said.

“We do everything that Mr. Knight was doing. He knows the style because he was a band member like us under the direction of Mr. Knight.

“When we used to do shows in the past we used to go over an entire song, but Mr. George goes over an entire section. It’s not a big change, but I think it’s pretty efficient.”

“He focuses on the music rather than the power and volume as most of us would think to focus.

“That’s helped us a lot because it’s given us a more concise focus and allows us to take care of the parts that need to be taken care of opposed to the whole thing.”

Stuart Vaughan, a senior and tenor saxophone section leader, said Mr. George is earning the respect of the rest of the band.

“He’s younger and because of his age you tend to take people a little less seriously, but right now I think that’s what we’re trying to fight with any type of disrespect we may have,” Stuart said.

“But I don’t think we could have had a better person take over. He’s getting us through the show. He’s making sure that we’re ready just like Mr. Knight would have. He’s earning his respect but he’s all about the music and doesn’t want to change anything.”

“He said multiple times that he doesn’t want to take the respect, but just wants people to focus on the music.”

Mr. George said everyone has been helpful.

“The students have been respectful and willing to learn,” he said. “Reginald Daniel, my assistant band director who was here when Mr. Knight was here, has been a incredible help to me.” I couldn’t have done a lot without him.”

Mr. George feels confident as the band continues to get ready for opening night.

“I feel prepared,” Mr. George said. “I think they’re prepared as well. You always wish you had a little bit more time that’s just the nature of the beast here.

“We’re here to entertain the crowd. We’re also a student band so we’re getting better overtime. Our freshmen are in a different place than our seniors and we’re learning to grow together.”

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