Curtis Moss’ family always had music in their life.
As the Eminence Independent Schools’ Music Director for middle and high school band, choir, brass quintet and general music educator he continues to instruct and instill the fundamentals and fun of music in his students.
Moss was in band as a student at Ballard Memorial High School. Ballard Memorial High School in in Barlow, Ky., is a small town similar to Eminence. With Paducah just 27 minutes away, Moss grew up in the town La Center which boasted 1,038 residents according to a 2000 census and attended high school in Barlow which had only 715 residents.
Early in his music career, Moss marched to his own tune. He chose the baritone tuba as his instrument. During his high school years, Moss’ band director Bret Burton included Moss and other proficient high school band students from the marching band in helping instruct fellow students. Burton included Moss and the other students in the teaching process where they gave input toward the program in a mentoring capacity. It was the early spark in Moss’ life, which lead to him thinking about teaching.
“He never discouraged us and wanted our input even though we were students,” Moss said. “He told me it was a long hard road to becoming a director as was being a band teacher. It was then I started seriously considering it.”
Moss decided he wanted to major in music education at Western Kentucky University. Under normal circumstances, he would have to audition for a scholarship in Western’s music program, but Moss had all-state band experience (they only select eight tuba players in the entire state) and the original student awarded the scholarship went to another school. Moss filled the vacancy and began his journey, growing as a musician.
“College band is much more intense,” Moss said. “It is a much higher level of playing. Hard pieces in high school were easy to play and well known compared to the refined 20th century music in college like Garden of Dreams and Prague 1968. “
During Moss’ sophomore year of college he joined the Army Reserve. There weren’t any current conflicts, but he wanted to express his patriotism for his country and serve.
He visited the military entrance processing station and looked for a job in the service close to Bowling Green. The most available job in the closest proximity to Bowling Green was tank commander. The woman processing his paperwork looked at his test scores and assured Moss he qualified for less strenuous jobs, but he took it.
Moss worked his way from tank commander to drill sergeant. The Kentucky National Guard Band Director Greg Stepp contacted Moss to see if he would be interested in playing tuba in the band. Moss missed playing, and was open to the change as long as he didn’t lose rank. He would have to be released from his current military contract. He learned that the 100th division in Fort Knox had a band. Moss went from firing grenade launchers, M16 assault rifles and 50 calibers guns during training exercises to getting the three signatures he needed to make the transfer. He started playing in the band and regularly met with them in Louisville.
During his senior year in college, he interviewed with Eminence school officials. He took the job, as what he calls himself: a music educator. Once Moss started teaching the elementary grades and acting as a general music teacher he fell in love with his position, the school and the community.
“I gear my lessons more toward musical education,” Moss said. “I know that when kids come into my class they are going to learn something about music and music theory. It wouldn’t be just singing songs. I have always had an aptitude to teach other people. I always tutored when I was in school. I played on the tennis team in high school and did many activities, but I have always been a band nerd. I reorganized my program and now my music students have a destination to reach in it.”
Moss admits he loves teaching and it drives him to focus his students whether it is in brass or the informal rock band where he acts as an advisor, but the engagement his students have at the elementary level brings him the most satisfaction.
“I wasn’t sure I would enjoy the teaching at the elementary level at first,” Moss said. “Now when you see the ‘a-ha!’ moments for little kids it is inspiring. You teach them through playing games and if you surrender to the elementary frame of mind you can be a good teacher.”
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