New band director marches into NKHS

POULSBO — The music room of North Kitsap High School was empty of students recently but the sound of drums still rolled through the bare room and spilled into the darkened hall.

David Dunbar, the new band director, was playing a CD of marching band music over the room’s speakers.

“I just want to see how the kids like it,” explained Dunbar, who was expecting some students to arrive later in the day on Aug. 13.

If he’s successful, there will be plenty for NK music students to like about Dunbar and the band program.

The new hire arrived in Poulsbo earlier this summer as the replacement for Sara Weyrick, who resigned to pursue an opportunity to study the French Horn with a renowned teacher.

Dunbar has a pair of master’s degrees — one in music education, one in instrumental conduction — from Illinois State University. He also taught at a middle school and high school in Texas.

After completing his degrees, Dunbar searched for a job. After he flew to NK for an interview, the community stood out for him.

“Band kids are band kids anywhere but this seemed like a great group of kids to work with,” he said.

Dunbar’s love for music began early; his music lessons started in second grade when, as he remembers it, his mom decided he needed a musical outlet that didn’t involve banging on pots and pans.

“I had good teachers and a good environment,” Dunbar recalled. “I saw that this is what I wanted to do with my life.”

Another influence on his life has been his father, who is close to retirement after 28 years teaching.

Now that Dunbar has arrived in NK, his first impression hasn’t been contradicted.

“Everyone was ridiculously friendly,” said Dunbar, who has received several offers by band members to give a helping hand during his organization of the program. “The students were very high-energy... that’s the kind of kids I want to be around.”

Dunbar said of his primary goals will be to get more students interested in band and to retain more students who played instruments in junior high. He has been on the phone with several parents, trying to convince them and their children to stay with music.

He also wants to maintain a high level of quality.

To that end, Dunbar has dived into the music program, stopping by the high school first thing after arriving in town and hardly leaving since. He has consulted with parents and musicians to get a feel for where the program needs to be led.

“Whatever we’re doing, it needs to be done well,” said Dunbar. “Everyone needs to be at their best.”

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