By Ralphine Major
He was known as Tony D’Andrea, but students called him “Mr. D.” In the early sixties, he became the band director at Gibbs, a small rural school in Corryton, Tennessee. While D’Andrea taught band at the junior high and high school levels, he also taught Beginning Band at Gibbs Elementary. That is where I met Mr. D, my first band director. As a fifth grader, I chose to take Beginning Band and started out with the clarinet. At that time, I did not realize what a challenging job the band director had—teaching a classroom full of students to play a variety of instruments and make it sound like music. Mr. D certainly had the knowledge and the talent, and he also had the personality to work with students. His great sense of humor made learning fun.
With D’Andrea, Gibbs gained a great band director and teacher. But in the beginning, the school did not even have a band room. I remember the late Bob Dagley, Assistant Principal during that time, telling me a few years ago that at first the band met in the basement and often had electrical problems that affected the lighting. By the time I joined the band, however, a new classroom had been built at the back of the school where the front of the school is today. The beloved band director’s white Volkswagen could often be seen parked at the entrance to the band room.
Words of Faith: “Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high-sounding cymbals. Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.” Psalm 150:3-6 (KJV).