Bruce Denmead, a music teacher and director of bands at , is known as “Papa D.,” “Mr. D.,” or sometimes just “D.” But make no mistake, when push comes to shove, his instrumental music students know Denmead is in charge.
At the close of this school year, Denmead’s seven-year tenure in the will come to a close. He recently announced his resignation because his wife has accepted a position at Brown University in Providence, R.I.
Through the course of each workday, Denmead sees more than 160 students. He will miss them.
“I like teaching,” he said. “I really like being able to inspire students to push themselves further than they think they can go.”
He enjoys helping people, Denmead said. “That’s kind of what I’m about.”
There’s no question that Denmead, 36, of Nazareth will be sorely missed.
“I enjoy him as a person,” said Connor Trinkle, 17, a junior who plays trumpet in the Symphonic Band and Jazz Band II. “He’s going to be missed next year.”
The instrumental music program is like a family, Connor added. “I found it was a very accepting family. Everybody’s welcomed, no matter what.”
“He’s done a fantastic job with this program,” said Nathan Grubel, 18, a senior who plays alto saxophone in the Symphonic Band and the Esquires Jazz Ensemble. “He’s turned it around 360 degrees. People care about this program. That’s all because of Mr. D. and what he does.”
According to Alan Earnshaw, a member of the East Penn School Board and the parent of two of Denmead’s students, the instrumental music program has tripled during Denmead’s tenure.
“He’s done phenomenal things with our band program,” Earnshaw said. While chaperoning many events, he said, it became clear to him that the students’ love of music and their musical abilities have grown considerably under Denmead’s guidance.
In addition, Earnshaw said, summer band camps have helped freshmen – including his own children -- transition into high school.
Denmead began his career as a music teacher at Central Catholic High School in Allentown in 1999. He subsequently taught in school districts in Cranford and Phillipsburg, N.J., before coming to the East Penn School District.
Denmead’s final concert at Emmaus High School will feature the Jazz Band II and Percussion Ensemble at 7 p.m. on May 19.
Denmead leads several groups at Emmaus High School, in addition to teaching music theory classes: Symphonic Band, Concert Band, Esquires Jazz Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble, Jazz Band II, Marching Band, and smaller ensembles depending on student interest.
“My students work so hard for me,” Denmead said, “and they’re really the reason this program has grown.”