Musical Movement: Catching Up With PB’s New Music Director, Mr. Casement

Shayla West, Staff Writer

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Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to Paint Branch’s new music teacher, Mr. Gregory Casement.
Originally from Cold Spring, New York, Mr. Casement moved his way down the coast to attend the University of Delaware where he studied music education. From Delaware, he continued the move south and found himself all the way down in Miami, where he completed his Master’s program – earning B.M. and M.M. Degrees in music education. In 2015, he also worked in Miami as an assistant director of music helping other bands, such as the University of Miami athletic band and those of some local high schools.

Mr. Casement’s interest in music did not start with his college days, however. He recalls his first foray into music by playing the drums at the age of 7. As he grew, so too did his involvement in music, including joining the school band in the second grade. After this first venture into music, Mr. Casement continued to fall in love with it, and expanded his involvement each year. His initial schooling in music reached its peak in high school where he started playing instruments ranging from percussion, to low brass, to trombone, and even to piano.

When he finished his Master’s program in Miami, Mr. Casement reversed course and headed north looking for a full-time teaching career that he could really “sink his teeth into.” This search led him to Maryland – and Paint Branch – which provided him an opportunity to be closer to home, city life, and to experience the seasons.
Mr. Casement admits that while he is here to teach music, that’s not his only objective. “I want to make sure everyone enjoys themselves while doing so,” he says. Mr. Casement also hopes that he can extend his reach beyond just those who are involved now in music at PB. He wants to let all of PB know that PB music is for everyone.
Now that Mr. Casement has almost a whole quarter as a teacher, instructor, and Band Leader under his belt, how does he feel that it is going? We sat down with him to get an inside look at how it has been going, learn a bit more about his background, and find out what his goals for PB Music are for the future.

M: What are your expectations for PB Music?
A: To grow – and when I say grow a lot of people think growing means numbers. Of course, more people involved shows that the program is growing and getting stronger, but I think growing is seeing the individuals in the ensemble become better people and then better musicians. I’d rather see them become better people and better students before musicians. The music will come and I think just having people be more excited about the programs is a good thing.

M: Have you learned anything in your time here?
A: Have I learned anything while being here? Oh yeah, I’m continuing to learn things, I’m continuing to learn things every day. I taught in high school a little while back, part-time, with another individual. There’s a lot of programs that have multiple band directors, multiple instrumental music teachers and that’s really a great opportunity because people have strengths and weaknesses left and right, regardless if it’s science, math, basketball (you’re a good dribbler and that person’s a better shooter). When you have that you can play off each other’s strengths. So, I think this is a situation where there’s only one person; so I’m learning from my weaknesses and trying to educate myself further so I can better understand and better teach. So, yeah, I’m learning every day.

M: What did you expect coming into your first year?
A: What did I expect? I expect there to be a lot of learning from myself and the program. It’s not easy for change, and I think it’s clear that Mr. K was very clearly loved. He did a fantastic job here. He really put the program in a good place. So I expect to enjoy all that he did, and I expect to learn from where we’re at and where we’d like to go. I expect people to see the music program in a different light.

M: Why did you come to PB?
A: Why did I come to Paint Branch? I just finished my Master’s program, and I was looking to get back into full-time teaching. I was teaching during my Master’s, but not full time. I was really excited to get back into a program where I could really sink my teeth into it; and I really enjoy the high-school level, the age, and maturity of the students at that level.
(M): If you think so.
(Laughter) I think it’s a unique age, and I think it’s really cool because you guys are still young – but you’re maturing, and there’s so much you’re going through, and there’s a lot to be learned, and there’s so much potential, and it’s a lot to tap into. I think it’s exciting to see that potential come to realization.
I love the area. I like D.C. because I was down in Miami before this – but I’m from New York, so I wanted to get back to the northeast so that I could get some seasons and be a little closer to home and closer to some city life. I really like the area. I felt like this was the right place for me.

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Musical Movement: Catching Up With PB’s New Music Director, Mr. Casement