While Dave Weinstein is quite the professional at leading the children of Forest Park in musical instruction, for the first time in 33 years he is preparing to take the lead on a new direction in life.
Weinstein, who has served as Forest Park Middle School’s band director since 1982, will be retiring from the district in June after a long career of introducing children to the world of music training.
Due to a strong passion for both music history and music instruction, Weinstein never spent a day second-guessing his career decision.
“Growing up, I had always been very musical,” he said. “When I went to college, I chose [music education] right away. I didn’t switch majors and it was just something I enjoyed doing.”
Weinstein was able to live out his dream at FPMS for the entire length of his career. Along with a passion for music, Weinstein says the relationships with his current and former students have been the highlights of his teaching days. Weinstein has taught students from third through eighth grades and says his favorite part about working in Forest Park has been getting to know countless numbers of students and watching them grow as both musicians and mature adults.
“I know a lot of people in town if they’ve stayed around and I’ve had siblings and children of former students,” he said.”
Weinstein believes best part about being a teacher in the music field has been the fact that the students have genuinely showed him respect and a shared love for the arts.
“All the students are choosing to be in here, and their parents are very supportive because they are supporting them financially, emotionally [and] practice-wise,” he said. “So there are no discipline issues, because the kids want to be here.”
Julio Luna-Pina, a FPMS eighth-grader who plays the clarinet, is grateful for all of the encouragement he and his fellow students have received from Weinstein during their studies. From his positive experiences at FPMS, Julio plans on continuing his music education through high school.
“I like his attitude when were performing and during rehearsals,” Julio said. “He’s always striving for us to do our best, and that’s really great encouragement for us as musicians, because sometimes you get lazy. He’s drilled that practice is the only way for us to get better.”
Seventh-grade tenor saxophone player Keegan Brown agrees with Julio in saying Weinstein has been very influential in helping him grow as a musician and has made being in the school band a memorable experience.
“He really brings fun and entertainment to the school,” Keegan said. “He teaches a lot of kids focus in order to play an instrument. I really like his quote ‘Practice does not make perfect, but perfect practice makes perfect.'”
Whether or not his students have decided to continue playing instruments past the eighth grade, Weinstein hopes he was able to help his students come away with a greater appreciation for music in general.
“What I always tell [students] is I don’t care whether they’re going into music as a career, as a hobby or anything. At least they will be better consumers of music, because they understand it better,” Weinstein said. “I don’t care what style of music, anything that they like they’ll be better at liking it. If they get that much out of it, then they’re succeeding.”
And, with the future of music education in jeopardy in several school districts across the region, Weinstein hopes that the next generation of music educators continues to persuade students about the power of music, much like he has done for more than 30 years.
“I think it’s important that we continue to have music in the schools performing, because it’s a great outlet for them,” he added.
Weinstein’s final performances with the FPMS band will be on Memorial Day weekend at the opening of the Forest Park pool and at the school’s graduation ceremony in June.