Band Director Mr. Kevin Klee has finally reached his official senior year. After watching 32 classes of seniors graduate from Snider, Mr. Klee has only experienced that feeling once — when he graduated from Snider in 1976. After many long days full of sacrifice, Mr. Klee is ready to compose the next movement of his life’s symphony.
Over the past 33 years, members of the marching band have become familiar with a side of Mr. Klee that many students have not had the privilege of knowing. To some students he’s the guy with a big smile, a Hawaiian shirt and khaki shorts.
To alum band member Rachel Campbell he is more than that. She reminisced about her fond memories of Mr. Klee from her freshman year in 2002.
“Mr. Klee said that if we made state finals after practicing in a muddy pig pen of the football practice field, then he would slide in the mud when we got back from regionals,” Campbell said. “Needless to say the mud was basically frozen and he didn’t get very muddy.”
Mr. Klee’s true talent is getting his passion for music across to his students in a way that makes them curious as to how music could also inspire them.
In addition to his daytime teaching responsibilities, administrative duties and the staggering amount of time he spends in meetings, Mr. Klee also arranges most of the music for each year’s marching band show.
Mr. Klee reflected on his time arranging music for many Snider Marching Bands.
“I love imagining what the music will sound like when my students play it. Some of my favorite shows have been John Rutter’s ‘Gloria,’ Stravinsky’s ‘Firebird Ballet,’ Stravinsky’s ‘Rite of Spring,’ Pat Metheny’s ‘First Circle’ and ‘Minuano’ and Elvis Costello’s ‘Il Sogno.’ I also liked ‘Nightshade’ from the Dr. Who show.”
This year the show was entitled “Latin Sketches.” Each of the three separate pieces showcased a different aspect of Latin music.
A normal marching band season for Mr. Klee would entail hundreds of hours of rehearsal, but for his last year, as a result of the pandemic, that time was cut in half.
Alli Carr spoke highly of Mr. Klee as she recalled difficulties the band had to face as they continued a shortened season.
“I hate that this is how his last season had to go, but what I admire the most about it is how he didn’t cancel our season or downplay the importance of our ISSMA performance simply because it was different,” Carr said. “He fought to get us to as many events as safely as possible and to push us as much as he could in the time that he had. It was an unconventional season, but I felt good about it as his last season because nothing changed about how hard he worked and fought for each and every kid on the field.”
The Snider Marching Band was the only band in Fort Wayne Community Schools to participate in the yearly Indiana State School Music Association event that allowed them to be virtually adjudicated by a panel of musicians and teachers. Many marching bands in the area were told that even practicing together would not be possible. Conversely, Mr. Klee and principal Mr. Chad Hissong saw the possibilities and began planning early so Snider students could still continue marching.
Mr. Klee and his staff worked diligently to ensure that this group of band members did not lose anything else to the pandemic that had ruled the last six months of their lives.
During the band’s final performance at a crisp Friday night football game, Mr. Klee was honored with a speech from Mr. Hissong which included many famous Klee quotes, including “Are you clear on the concept?” and “You guys look like an elephant trying to poop in a Dixie cup!”
Seniors from the 2020 marching band lined the track with posters, each displaying one of his famous quotes.
Everyone in the scaled-down and socially-distanced audience rose from their seats to applaud Mr. Klee at the end of his speech.
Trinity Forish, senior percussionist, violinist, and guitar player is finishing her last year at Snider alongside Mr. Klee.
“Mr. Klee has taught me many things over my last four years at Snider,” Forish said, “like showing me how a true leader acts and that you should never give up, but instead persevere through the hard times. He taught me the value of believing in what you’re doing, as having faith can bring great accomplishments.”