Melodies, rhythm and song wove intricate patterns in Michael Boitz’ musical career while a student at Anoka High School back in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Band director John Lace inspired the teenage boy, teaching him how to love the process and purity of a beautiful melody, and sharing with him a genuine love of music.
The lessons Lace taught music students about authentic leadership and helping to make the world better while studying music inspired Boitz to pursue music education as a career, he said.
And so he did. And that career has repeatedly crescendoed as Boitz devotes himself to teaching music to students enrolled at Saratoga High School in Saratoga, Calif.
Most recently, Boitz was awarded the 2013 California Music Educator of the Year award. He’d been presented that same award two previous times and before that, he’d won a 2005 city of Saratoga commendation, the 2003 California Musical Education Association (CMEA) Bay Section Gil Freitas Award and the 2001 Saratoga-Los Gatos Teacher of the Year Award.
“I just want students to love making music. I want students to love going to the symphony, jazz clubs, rock concerts, contemporary music concerts, band concerts … I want them to challenge themselves to be a part of something larger than ourselves,” Boitz said.
While the award-winning music teacher is passionate about his vocation, he didn’t anticipate the adulation.
“Please know I’m a little embarrassed,” Boitz said. “I have so many great role models, I have never really felt like I ‘measure up’ which is why the award was such a surprise to me.”
Boitz counts Peter Dahlstrom as his first real inspiration. Dahlstrom was Boitz’ junior high band director when he was a student at Fred Moore Junior High School, as it was known then.
After recognizing some “facial structure issues” the sixth-grader had, Dahlstrom had Boitz play tuba, which landed him in the band’s top ensemble.
“I’ll never forget the first day I had in band at Fred Moore with Mr. Dahlstrom,” Boitz said. “The band played exercises that mesmerized me at the time, the sound created was like a symphony to me at the time and Mr. Dahlstrom had accorded a level of respect from his students that created a greater level of discipline and focus than I had in any other class in all of my junior high days.”
His experience in Dahlstrom’s band catapulted Boitz on to a passionate high school musical career as he immersed himself in music at Anoka High School.
“At Anoka I joined just about everything I could possibly join,” he said. “I played in the concert band all three years (the school was grade 10-12 at the time), marching band for all three years, choir for one year, orchestra for one year, pep band all three years, brass quintets and performed on stage in two musicals under the direction of Mr. Kent Knutson, also a major inspiration.”
After his 1992 graduation from Anoka High School, Boitz studied music at Concordia College, Moorhead, and completed his master of arts in music education with a conducting emphasis from Northwestern University where he continues to further his studies.
And the beat goes on because, as Boitz acknowledges, “I don’t think I’ve gone more than a couple of hours in my life when I haven’t been thinking of music, listening to music, playing music, etc. Music allows me to feel, to emote, to reflect on my relationships for better or for worse, to build excitement in me, to express what I’m feeling without words.”
Sue Austreng is at firstname.lastname@example.org