A Tough Act to Follow
Some acts are tough to follow. In 2018, educator and musician Lance Dubay interviewed to lead Kingsley's band program following the departure of longtime director Tom Clair.
"They asked me, 'Why should you follow Tom? What could you do after Tom?' I said, 'I'm not Tom. I'm not going to try to be Tom, I'm going to just try to get more kids involved in the program.'"
Mission accomplished. In his time here, Mr. Dubay has continued and built upon Kingsley's reputation of musical excellence, growing the program, earning top ranks at State competition, and expanding to include offerings like the High School Jazz Prism. The band program has the biggest student population and extends to 5th - 12th grade students.
Mr. Dubay grew up in Petoskey and studied music at Northern Michigan University.
"In college, I was by no means a great tuba player or a great musician. I struggled so hard, which I think is why I've been able to be successful. I have literally lived every struggle with performing."
He pursued a degree in education at Wayne State followed by student teaching in Detroit. Around this time, the Great Recession hit, and he couldn't find a job teaching band.
He found an opening for an algebra teacher at a small school in the U.P. then became a substitute teacher in Gwinn, Michigan.
"After that, I got a job in northern Minnesota right on the edge of the Earth. On a clear night, you could see Manitoba. We were 12 miles south of the border, geographically, it was closer for us to go to Winnipeg, Canada than any city in the US."
In Minnesota, Mr. Dubay was tasked with reviving the district's band program after a rotating door of bad directors.
"We got recognition as one of the top programs in the state and earned every award you could get."
Why Join Band?
"Growing up, I was in band and had a not-so-good home life. Music was my outlet. I try to make sure kids know that it can be an outlet."
"Music is a lifelong thing. Sports are great. But your body gives out and you can't perform at the same level. Music is something you can do the rest of your life and so it's really a lifelong thing," said Mr. Dubay.
Music is really secondary. My goal is to make good, productive members of society. It's about hard work, honoring commitments, and being held to a higher standard, which is important in all things you do."
Mr. Dubay says he's very proud to see so many Stags continuing their music careers at the collegiate level.
"We have tons of kids not only majoring in music but also participating in new bands, either in community groups or at the collegiate level.
I got a call from Northern Michigan University's band director saying that I needed to go to their spring concert because of how many Kingsley students they have up there. The band director up there has been teaching for almost 50 years and said the repertoire is one of the most challenging the ensemble's ever done, and he said the whole reason they're able to play at the level is because of all of [Kingsley's] students and how well they play."
Mr. Dubay is finishing his master's degree in education, specifically pedagogy. He has been recruited for a few PhD programs and says he wants to continue his education because "we need more band directors. I want to be the one to help produce the next generation of good band directors."
In the summer, he instructs at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp. He also does a lot of writing and arranging. He's currently working on piecing together works from American composer Percy Grainger.
"I get bored if I'm not busy. I will have time to rest when I'm dead."