- Associated Press - Sunday, October 26, 2014

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) - Adam Dalton’s love of music has taken him from his grandmother’s piano in a small Virginia town around the world and almost back again to West Virginia, where he now is the Director of Athletic Bands at Marshall University.

Dalton took over the band in August, and he already is off to a running start amping up the band’s repertoire and increasing its visibility in the Marshall community.

Coming from a small school with a sturdy, nationally recognized band, Dalton’s love of music has grown right along with his physiological growth.

“I loved playing piano at my grandma’s house when I was a kid,” Dalton said. “It was fun to start something in high school and being a marching band that was nationally competitive. I just fell in love with it.”

Dalton earned his undergraduate degree as a part of the Marching Royal Dukes at James Madison University, where he earned his undergraduate degree in musical education.

He then moved to Atlanta, where he taught music and marching band to elementary and high school students for four years.

Dalton moved on to the University of Alabama to pursue his master’s degree while working as a graduate assistant, conducting ensembles and being heavily involved with the university’s marching band.

“I finished my two years and got my master’s in music education,” Dalton said. “I thought, ‘You know, while I’m already here, I’m already out of school and not getting paid, I might as well stick around and get my doctorate.’”

Dalton graduated with a Ph.D. in conducting this past August, just before he arrived at Marshall to take over the 240-member Marching Thunder.

Finding Marshall was easy for Dalton, who said he heard of the university through the film “We Are Marshall.” However, what finally sold him on Marshall was the community in Huntington.

“When I came to visit, it seemed like such a great community,” Dalton said. “The people were so nice. I mean, I had a 30-minute conversation with my next door neighbor. That never would have happened in Atlanta. It really never would have happened in Alabama.”

He said the work that his predecessor, Steve Barnett, did with the band also made it easy for him to move a little closer to home.

“It had already been set up well,” Dalton said. “Steve Barnett had done a good job over the past 11 years making it great, so it was easy to step into that.”

Dalton is looking to pick up where Barnett left off and transition the band into a new era with contemporary music and a more noticeable presence at athletic events and within the community.

He said he means for the band to play after every play and keep athletes and fans ‘riled up.’

“I want people to feel connected,” Dalton said. “When you remember a football game or a basketball game, you’re not going to remember how many yards somebody rushed for. You’re not going to remember how many field goal attempts there were. You’re going to remember the atmosphere. You’re going to remember the experience. You’re going to remember the cheerleaders. You’re going to remember the marching band. You’re going to remember the players running on the field through the smoke. The marching band is a huge part of that atmosphere.”

Of course, Dalton also is as much of a professor as he is a director, and he said it is important for him and the band to set a good educational tone.

“There’s a lot of music education majors, so there are a lot of future teachers in that band,” Dalton said. “It’s important that we teach them how marching band should be, that we teach the people who come watch us how a marching band should be.”

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Information from: The Herald-Dispatch, http://www.herald-dispatch.com

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