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Strike up the band!

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Owens named Kentucky’s Outstanding Band Director

By Camille McClanahan

David Owens is outstanding in his field and he has the title to prove it. The music and band director at Grant County High School has been given the highest honor awarded a band director in the state of Kentucky.

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Owens was named the 2010 Outstanding Young Band Director by the Kentucky Chapter of Phi Beta Mu International Band Masters Fraternity at the Kentucky Music Educator’s Association’s annual conference in Louisville in February.

In his first year at Grant County High School, Owens led the marching band to second place in the state   AAAA Kentucky Music Educator’s Association marching band competition.

“It’s been a great first year,” Owens said. “The kids worked extremely hard. They really want to be great. The kids, and the parents, have been awesome.”

His wife, Jo Ann is the band director at the Grant County Middle School and they have two sons, Grant, 2, and Keegan, 3 months. Owens grew up in Corbin, Kentucky where he discovered his passion for music as a junior at Corbin High School. It was then, that he decided on his future career.

“I distinctly remember being at a marching band contest, watching the band warm up and thought this would be a lot of fun to do,” Owens said. “This would be cool.”

According to Owens, he was the first person in his family to earn a college degree and his parents weren’t sure that music could actually be a career, but now they have a better understanding of his life’s work.

Owens earned his bachelors degree in music education from the University of the Cumberlands in 2002 and his masters in education administration from Xavier University. Prior to coming to Grant County, Owens was the band director at Beechwood High School in Fort Mitchell, leading them to a state championship in 2006 and, in 2008, to third place in the Class A National Championship competition.

However, Owens is more interested in what the program can do for the students than accolades for himself.

“I think we’ve still got a lot of work to do developing more opportunities for our kids,” Owens said. “We’re trying to make every facet of the band program great and get it bigger and increase school spirit with the pep band; I think we’ve done that this year. It’s been a lot of fun. I’d like to get more notoriety for the school throughout the state.”

There are many components to the music program, according to Owens, but the marching band is the most visible.  There is a percussion ensemble and the Jazz ensemble will play at the Campbell County Jazz festival in May. In the future, he hopes the community will continue to support music education by attending the concerts.

Owens also expressed admiration for the Williamstown Band of Spirit, named 2009 KMEA Class A State Champions.

“It’s very rare to have two successful programs in the same county,” Owens said. “There is a lot of good things happening in music education in this area.”