Elzey helps music community stay on beat
by Mark Andrews
Jul 08, 2013 | 2233 views | 0 0 comments | 81 81 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Michael Elzey is the assistant band director at Cartersville Middle and Cartersville High School. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Michael Elzey is the assistant band director at Cartersville Middle and Cartersville High School. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
For Michael Elzey, a career in music has brought numerous rewards. As assistant band director for both Cartersville Middle and Cartersville High schools and conductor of the Bartow Winds Concert Band, Elzey said music and education is not just a job, but a community service as well.

“The most rewarding aspect of teaching music is seeing my students succeed,” Elzey said. “Since I began working with bands several years ago, I have seen many of my students be selected for numerous honor bands across the Southeast. I have also seen several of my students receive scholarships to play in bands at the university level and play with professional ensembles across the state. It is such a rewarding sight to see my students successful and to know that I had a small part in helping them achieve their goals.”

Occupations/titles: Assistant Band Director, Cartersville Middle and High schools. Conductor, Bartow Winds Concert Band.

City of residence: Cartersville.

Family: Married to Cindy Jones Elzey.

Education: Graduated from Cass High School in 2006. Received Bachelors Degree in Music Education from Reinhardt University in 2011 and Masters Degree in Instrumental Conducting in 2012, also from Reinhardt.

How long have you considered yourself to be a musician?

A: I guess I would have to say since I began learning to play the saxophone in sixth grade at Cass Middle School many years ago. My middle school band directors, Phil Dean and Michele Gaspardo, started me on my path to band directing by strongly encouraging me to continue with music past middle school and high school.

What inspired you to pursue music education?

A: It is not really a question of what inspired me. It is more of who inspired me. Mr. Mack Roberts, band director at Cass High School, was my band director for my last two years of high school. Mr. Roberts inspired each of his students to always strive for something more. He was an incredible teacher and mentor both during high school and after. In fact, I strongly believe that I would not have gone to Reinhardt University and been able to study with some of the best music educators in the country if it had not been for Mr. Roberts. Without a doubt, Mr. Mack Roberts was the one who inspired me to pursue music education and I am a better teacher for having learned from this man.

Middle and high school bands are some of the largest student organizations/activity groups in Bartow County and Cartersville. What do you feel music does in the lives of our local youth to continue to draw so many to band in the 2010s?

A: I believe that one thing that continues to draw so many students to our local band programs is a sense of belonging to a successful organization. As you look around Bartow County, there is not one music program that is not extraordinary. This includes music programs from the elementary level through high school. This sense of success begins with the incredible elementary music teachers in this county and then continues as we receive these students in our middle school and high school music programs. Also, I believe that music provides a way for a lot of students to go to college who might not have gone otherwise.

When did you decide it was time to begin the Bartow Winds Concert Band?

A: When I was in college, I was very fortunate to be able to perform with the Tara Winds Concert Band of Atlanta under the direction of my college band director, Dr. David Gregory. I performed two patriotic concerts with this group during my college career and even arranged a piece of music for them to perform at the 2010 Georgia Music Educators Association In-Service Conference in Savannah. I saw how this group brought together instrumental musicians from late high school age to older adults who were all united by their love of playing music. I thought to myself, “We need a group like this in Cartersville.” In April of 2009, I met with a few of the local high school band directors and plans were underway to form the Bartow Winds Concert Band and to perform our first annual “Celebration of Independence” concert in downtown Cartersville later that summer.

What role do you feel Bartow Winds Concert Band plays in the community and in the lives of its members?

A: For the community, I believe we are a beacon of hope. It is not every day that you see a musical group that will perform a concert to raise money for local charities. And even then, some groups will only donate what is left after their expenses are covered. Bartow Winds is not one of those groups. We give every penny that we collect to the charity that we have chosen to benefit. I am very proud to say that since July 2009, Bartow Winds has raised over $3,000 for many charities in Bartow County.

For our members, I feel that the group provides an outlet for them to continue something they enjoyed so much during their school days and share it with others. So many instrumental musicians do not get to play their instruments after high school unless they go to a college that has a band program. I am glad that we can provide a group for these musicians to continue sharing their talents with others.

Where is your favorite place to be in Bartow County?

A: Anywhere that I can spend time with family and friends.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

A: “Never forget that you do make a difference in the lives of others. Especially your students.” Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser, Conn-Selmer Institute Director.

Do you have a personal philosophy?

A: Always strive to do your best and be the best. Never settle for good enough.

What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?

A: A lot of people would be surprised to learn that in addition to music, there is another subject that holds my interest. I am very interested in Civil War history. I frequently visit several historic battlefields, including Chickamauga, Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge, Kennesaw Mountain, Allatoona Pass, and have retraced the path of the Great Locomotive Chase of 1862 that spent most of its time here in Bartow County.