Director of Bands Scott Schwarz will be retiring after 29 years at Glendora High School. He has had an impact on countless students and has shaped the Glendora Bands to their current prestige.
Schwarz has always been a musician at heart. He grew up singing, in drama, and playing his trumpet in church, surrounding himself with inspiration.
The idea of teaching came up in junior high. Between leadership and teaching roles as a Boy Scout and trumpet section leader in his high school band, the thought continued to grow. He finally made the decision in college.
“You’re born to do something sometimes,” says Schwarz. “The old man upstairs says ‘this is your destiny,’ so why fight it?”
Instead of fighting it, following his life’s flow has led to a rewarding career. The best part? Getting to see students grow and learn.
“When somebody gets it, or understands something [they weren’t] understanding before, and all of the sudden you see the little lights go on? That’s great.”
Band is the perfect place to see how students change as they go from freshman to seniors, both as musicians and people. Everyone learns and becomes an individual ready to make a difference, and the effect is like magic.
Schwarz has a unique opportunity through teaching music. Unlike other classes, he doesn’t have a specific curriculum to teach or tests to give. The bands’ tests and standards are performances, not academics, which gives him more freedom.
Sometimes, in the middle of rehearsals, Schwarz will take a few minutes to tell stories, talk about life, and even discuss how to be a good human and better society.
Schwarz explains, “I want to be a teacher, and music is the way that I teach, but there’s so much to learn—we don’t have a manual for life.”
Whether or not all students resonate with this, those who do are eternally grateful.
One of the most difficult experiences Schwarz can remember is from the 2019-2020 school year. The Wind Ensemble had been working on a college-level piece, American Overture, for several months.
At the concert though, the song was a mess. From the very first measure of french horns to the piccolos’ out-of-tune runs to missed cues, they got through it as quickly as they could.
“It was like the most embarrassing moment in, I think, my entire career: it was really bad.”
A month later, at the next concert, Schwarz and the Wind Ensemble redeemed themselves. The performance was great—and a perfect example of the tremendous growth he has been able to witness over the years.
There is not one moment Schwarz thinks of as his favorite, but rather accumulations of good ones that make for great years and performances.
From drumline coming up from nothing, to pipe band winning huge competitions, to getting to march in the Rose Parade and more, there is just no way to pick.
As Schwarz gets ready to leave GHS’s Bandland, he wants all high schoolers to remember to have joy.
He emphasizes, “We are entitled to a life of abundance, and we sell that short for some reason.”
While this new page in his life is certainly exciting, Schwarz will be greatly missed by those he has impacted. Hopefully he is able to take full advantage of his abundance of joy—oh, and doesn’t forget to measure the numbers.