Holy Schmidt!


The Mirror

Many Stevens Point Area Senior High (SPASH) band students stay in the program due to Brad Schmidt, the band director. He teaches all of bands at SPASH, and the P.J. Jacobs Jazz Band. He has been teaching in the district since 1989. He told me what inspired him to explore music and become a music teacher.


Q: Why do you teach music?

A: Why do I do what I do? Well, I played in a band obviously as everyone does in junior high and high school. And in junior high, my mom made me practice, I was one of those reluctant kids, you know, and she insisted I practice. I really didn’t like it and so my goal at the end of junior high was to quit before high school. But I really did like the performances, I liked what I could feel during the music while it was happening. I really kind of liked it even in seventh grade, you know, I could tell that there was something there. I kind of thought boy, you know, I’m going to miss this.

We had a really nice high school band director. His name was Don Schleicher. He was actually from Ripon, Wisconsin, and he went to University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) as a kid and he wound up out in western New York as a band director in my high school after going to UWSP and working with Don Green, the legendary Wind Ensemble conductor. And then he went on to Northwestern and studied with John Painter.

And so I said, well I’ll have one year of Schleicher and see if I like it. So I did one year and then I was kind of hooked. I mean I really liked it. I thought ninth grade was great and tenth grade was great. Then I got to know him really well, it was back in the day when you could be kind of friends with your teachers and we were really close with him and did things with him. And so I really enjoyed that aspect of high school and I thought to myself, I just don’t want this to be done when I graduate.

I was studying at the time, taking some client at lessons with a guy in the Buffalo Philharmonic and it just so worked out, his name was James Pine and he was a clarinetist, he had done a semester at the University of Michigan my senior year. He had left the Buffalo Philharmonic for just one semester and taught clarinet at Michigan. And so when I went out there to audition and see the school and all that, he kind of helped me out, showed me around campus. I did well enough in my audition to get a little bit of a scholarship there so I can afford it.

So one thing led to another and all of a sudden I was in music education at Michigan. I thought that would be kind of cool, to be a band teacher. I took four and a half years of classes. And I student taught my fifth year then graduated in December, like Hoffman did (the SPASH band’s student teacher from first semester). So it was really cool. I guess I was inspired by my teachers and by the people that I knew.


Q: What was your first teaching job?

A: My first real teaching job well, it’s funny because it was here. I’ve never really worked in any other district, but I’ve had different jobs in this district.

So I started when I was 23, right out of college and I worked here helping Russ Mikkelson, the band director here, and the job was a lot for him, because there were so many students involved with the band program. So I came and I helped out with one of the bands here at SPASH, and drove to a bunch of elementary schools once a week for their bands.

I did that for several years until the job at PJ opened up to do seventh and eighth grade band and their jazz band so I could do a lot less traveling to all these elementary schools.

I did that I did that for about 13 years until Mr. [Joe] Adams, then the SPASH band teacher, was close to retirement and wanted to scale back. So he and I kind of traded. He took the PJ Jazz Band and a couple elementary schools and I came to SPASH. I’ve been in this district for 30 years now, and that’s kind of wild the way that happened.