A local music teacher and band director has been chosen to participate in the 2022 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California.
Michelle Fritts, band director for the Edmeston Central School District, said she will join band directors from across the country next Jan. 1 for the event.
A custom-designed animated float will lead a “marching band of band directors” up to 300 strong from across the country. The Michael D. Sewell Memorial Foundation, based in Pickerington, Ohio, is the sponsoring organization behind the project. The foundation was created to recognize and carry on the work of the late Mike Sewell, “who dedicated his life to the school and community music programs in Pickerington and the Central Ohio area for more than 38 years,” a media release said.
Fritts told The Daily Star she became aware of the opportunity in a professional development publication and applied online months ago. The acceptance came as a surprise.
“I had actually forgotten about it,” she said. “It was really exciting.”
Fritts said she hopes to play the clarinet at the parade, though she listed baritone as an alternate instrument. The clarinet, she noted, would be much easier to transport to California. She said she will travel to Pasadena on Dec. 29, practice with the rest of the band, and get a tour of the facility where the parade’s famous floats are built. While she initially thought she would be marching the parade’s 5½ mile route, she later learned the band will ride on a float.
According to the media release, the parade entry will convey the theme, “We teach music. We teach life.”
“The extraordinary dedication and accomplishments of band directors are well known to their students, to parents and to school teachers and administrators,” the release said. “No matter where they teach and work — public and private schools, colleges and universities, the military, community bands — dedicated music educators and leaders work long hours to not only teach and direct music, but to teach life itself. Students’ lives in particular are positively changed by a motivational leader who taught, inspired and mentored them.”
Fritts has taught music education for 15 years in Otsego County, she said. She is a graduate of Franklin Central School and received her undergraduate and master’s degrees at the College of Saint Rose in Albany. In Edmeston, she teaches grades instrumental music in grades 4 through 12 and leads three concert bands and their Junior/Senior marching band. Under her direction, student musicians have performed at University of Massachusetts-Amherst Band Days, participate annually in the Sherburne Pageant of Bands, and played in Albany as guests of the New York State School Music Association Music in Our Schools Month performances, the release said.
More information about the band leader project is available online at BandDirectorSalute.org
Robert Cairns is the managing editor of The Daily Star. He can be reached at email@example.com or 607-441-7217.