Newbies of DSU: New director of bands’ tale of saxophones, student appreciation

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Bryant Smith, the new director of bands for Dixie State University, has a love for music instilled in him by his parents.

Smith said his main responsibilities at DSU are to teach the symphonic band, conducting classes and music appreciation class.

While growing up in Concord, Massachusetts, Smith said he learned to play a plethora of instruments starting at the age of 6. He said he originally began playing the piano but soon fell in love with the alto saxophone when he entered fourth-grade. Smith, who still avidly plays his beloved saxophone, refers to it as “[his] fifth child.” 

Deciding he needed a change of pace from the bustling atmosphere of the East Coast, Smith pursued his musical endeavors by making his way west to study at the University of Utah in the late 1990s. It was there Smith met his wife, Heather.

While pursuing his undergraduate degree in music education, Smith said he joined a comedy a cappella group called Moosebutter. 

“[I have] always been interested in sound and what it does,” Smith said. “I’ve learned over time that it’s really fun to perform music, to go out and to be on stage and perform for other people.”

After graduation, Smith said he furthered his education by attending Brigham Young University in Provo. There he earned a master’s degree in wind conducting. He followed suit by earning his doctorate in conducting from the University of Northern Colorado. 

Prior to coming to DSU, Smith held the position of director of bands for three years at Columbia Basin College, located in Pasco, Washington. During his time spent at CBC, he taught various classes, including jazz band, concert band, music appreciation and music theory. 

When the director of bands position opened at DSU, Smith said he and his wife knew he needed to apply for the job. To them, he said this position had been on their “dream job list for the last decade.”

Smith considered the director of bands position here at DSU to be his ideal job for many different reasons. Smith said the St. George area provided “tons of musical potential.” He also said he enjoyed the idea of DSU being a growing university with wonderful students. 

“With the way he teaches, it’s obvious that he has played in bands and that he knows what he is talking about,” said Carly Green, a freshman psychology major from St. George. “He understands what you are doing wrong, and he knows how to make it right.”

Smith said seeing what potential DSU and the community has to offer has helped Smith set long-term goals pertaining to the progression of the music department. He said he wants to “see a level of quality in the music that is going to be respected in this state and in this region.”

Jackson Cooney, a sophomore music education major from St. George, said, “It makes me very proud to be part of this band that he wants to grow.”

The other aspect of Smith’s vision is to get more students into the music program, he said.

Smith said, “In a university pushing 10,000 [students], there are more than 38 musicians on this campus.”  

Smith said he visits local high schools to inform the students of the music program at DSU. He said he also has targeted the freshman class in an attempt to draw students into the program. On Freshman Orientation Day, Smith said seven students joined the band.

“Music is too important for those other kids not to be involved in music,” Smith said.