Woods Cross band teacher hits a high noteSep 09, 2021 01:56PM ● By Becky Ginos
Todd Campbell has been teaching music for 29 years. He recently received the Sorenson Legacy Foundation Arts Teacher of the Year award. Courtesy photo
WOODS CROSS—Todd Campbell never wanted to be a music teacher, but 29 years and hundreds of kids later he’s found his passion – changing students' lives through music. The Woods Cross High band teacher was recently honored for his efforts with the Arts Teacher of the Year award by the Sorenson Legacy Foundation.
“I grew up in a musical family,” Campbell said. “My dad was in the Utah Symphony and was a professional jazz drummer and percussionist. Four out of five of my brothers are either in music as a career or playing professionally.”
Campbell said he didn’t want to teach because he’d watched all the hours his dad put in. “I went to Woods Cross and became the drum major and got experience leading the band. The band teacher was taking a class and left all the teaching to me. That solidified it even more that I didn’t want to do that even though it was a great experience.”
After serving an LDS mission and then on to college, Campbell said he was trying to decide what to study. “I wanted to be a teacher and music was what I was good at. A friend said to me that ‘it’s not about the final project, I think it’s about the journey.’”
Campbell started teaching band at Mueller Park Junior High. “I just loved it,” he said. “I never intended to change but my father was retiring (from South Davis Junior High) and student enrollment at MPJ started going down. It went from 950 students down to 650. We had a hard time maintaining those numbers (in band).”
There were 1,300 kids at South Davis, he said. “So I immediately had more students. I taught for nine years and loved it. I loved teaching junior high age kids. I loved teaching kids music.”
When the band teacher at Woods Cross got another job he tried to talk Campbell into moving to high school. “I knew that would require more outside hours,” he said. “I’d taught for 17 years in junior highs and loved it but I needed something different so I made the move to high school. It was hard and challenging. But I taught kids I knew and fell in love all over again.”
When COVID hit it was hard, said Campbell. “The hardest time was at the end of the first year when everything got shut down and they had to play their instruments on their own. We got through the best we could. We used Zoom a lot.”
During the first term of 2020 when schools were on a hybrid schedule they couldn’t meet together as a complete band. “We’d meet every other day,” he said. “We’d play like normal but didn’t have all the instruments. That was rough.”
Campbell said there were some positive things that came out of it though. “We had virtual concerts that we’d record and listen to ourselves. We approached it with ‘we can do this.’ We had to figure out a lot of things we could do in an alternative way.”
There was a little dip in enrollment, he said. “We lost some kids who just said ‘this isn’t worth it anymore.’ The oldest kids were the biggest group I had. Music is very social.”
With the return of school, Campbell said he’s worried about going back. “Last year we were spread out. This year we’ll try to spread out as much as we can but they’re blowing right at me. We put bell covers on their instruments which is like a mask. I was quarantined three times last year. I’ve been tested eight times, I had it and I’m vaccinated. I’m wearing a mask.”
In spite of the challenges, Campbell plans to continue teaching music for many years to come.
“I’m teaching the kids of kids I taught,” he said. “It’s been a rewarding part of my life for sure.”