The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Lou Marzeles

New music teacher calls Goldendale home


Lou Marzeles

TUNES TEACHER: Danny Schneider, new music teacher at the Goldendale School District, in the band rehearsal room.

Danny Schneider has made strong first impressions since his recent arrival in Goldendale. The Goldendale School District's new music teacher hadn't even fully unpacked before he had to take the high school band out to play at a football game.

"I was here one day-my first day-and the next day we were playing," Schneider recalls. He introduced himself in a heart-to-heart with his players, they stepped up, and all was well.

Then there was Goldendale's Veterans' Day Parade, its first in forever as far as anyone can remember. The parade had a school marching band in it-also the first time in forever-and viewers were thrilled.

Schneider steps into a position held for three decades by Doug Siegel, to whom Schneider offers high praise. "Doug laid a lot of great ground work," Schneider says. "It would be crazy to say that he wasn't fantastic, and I think people in this town know that. But the kids that are here, the high schoolers, I owe everything that they're doing to Doug. I'm introducing new music to them and we're working on things, but their skills are all because of Doug, and it's going to be that way for several years. I'm very thankful that he put in all that work."

The only new aspiring musicians coming to Schneieder are from the fifth grade. "And I'm seeing a lot of good things from them," he says. "Their first band teacher is me, and I'm trying to gauge where I saw the sixth graders at the beginning of the year and am I bringing my fifth graders up to that level. So far I think we're on track. Doug and his wife spent some time with me over the summer and have been great contacts, great friends to Bethany and me both. Doug cares a lot about this program and really wants to see it continue. Well, he's put 32 years into it."

Bethany is Schneider's wife who presently is still working back in Idaho, coming to Goldendale on weekends, while the two settle in. "She loves it here," Schneider says. "It was a big deal when I was considering the job-I said, 'Is this going to be something that's going to work?' I personally would love to find somewhere and just stay there. I would love Goldendale to work out to where I can be here for a long time; I don't want to be a teacher who just jumps ship, and I'm still learning how to be a teacher. So I'll be here for a while. Bethany loves it. We have her horses boarded out here, and there's plenty of outdoors around."

Schneider had been working as a substitute teacher in Post Falls, Id., just earlier this year. He was looking for a full-time gig when he heard about an education career fair in Spokane in March. He went. So did GSD Superintendent Mark Heid and others from the school, there to troll for a new music teacher after Seigel had announced his retirement. "I did not expect to find a job at all," Schneider says. "But then I ran into Mark Heid and his group. I ended up talking to them and really connecting with them. I actually met several schools looking for a music teacher. Goldendale offered me an interview-and I'd never heard of Goldendale, to be honest. I've never really been over in this area. But I said, 'Why not? I would love to come out here.' So this was actually my first interview."

It was a good one. Over 45 minutes they conversed about what they wanted to see and what Schneider could offer. They offered him the job the same day.

"They said we really wanted to get this done," he recalls. "And that put a little bit of a clock on me. I was scared because this was my first interview. It was my first job offer. I had no idea what to think. I did do a couple of interviews over the next couple of days, and I just didn't find the same chemistry with administration or the other teachers. As scared as I was to make a terrible decision, I jumped in because I felt good about what I had heard and what I had experienced myself. So my wife and I decided that it was OK, and we just took the leap."

Schneider is a native Idahoan, born in Moscow but eventually settled in Coeur d'Alene. He did a brief stint at North Idaho College in Coeur d'Alene right after high school. Soon after he moved on to the University of Idaho. "I chased a girl down there," he says with a rueful smile. "That didn't end up so well." His music education fared much better, and he ended up graduating from the university with a vocal and instrumental music education degree. That was only a year ago, last December.

Schneider is asked how he finds Goldendale students in terms of temperament and musical proficiency. "I am pleased where everybody is," he states. "There are a few students, as in any band, who need a little bit more help, and there'll always be students that are way beyond where the group is. That's the most frustrating part of the job is to see one piece of music but 43 different levels of musicianship in the high school band, especially since you have four different years of school. You want to accommodate everyone. However, the level that we are achieving is right where I want to be. When I push the kids, they've risen to all of my expectations. I think we played some fairly difficult music for the Christmas concert, and I thought that went very well. I thought everybody made it happen. And the kids here are super nice. I don't have a lot of discipline problems. There's a little stuff here and there, but I don't feel like there are any real issues. And I'm very thankful for that, for being able to deal with music and teach more than having to worry about other issues."

His students may go on to do performance marching bands, Schneider considers, though he doesn't foresee scaling that up to competitive high-visibility levels. It's the interaction among the students that he sees as the most valuable aspect. "It's the opportunity to bond together and spend time-I mean that," he says. "It sounds crazy, but the spending time together and being more of-to not overuse the word-family, to be more of a family there. Trophies are cool, and I'm not against winning some stuff. But it's not the primary focus."


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