Douglas Droste is director of orchestras and associate professor of music at Ball State University in Indiana. As a dedicated advocate of music education, Droste regularly conducts youth and all-state orchestras and serves as a clinician and adjudicator for school orchestras and festivals.
He is also conductor of the Music For All Summer Symposium Youth Orchestra. A graduate of The Ohio State University and Texas Tech University, Droste previously worked at Liberty Union-Thurston School District in Ohio, Austin Peay State University and Oklahoma State University. He is a Yamaha Master Educator.
Q. Other than music, what brings you inspiration?
A. Two things: my children and athletes. My kids inspire me daily — to be a better father and person, and to hopefully give them the tools to be successful. Athletes are very similar to musicians in having to produce at a high level for a consistent period of time.
Q. When did you know that you were going to make music the focus of your professional life?
A. I knew very early that music would be a major part of my life. My parents, sister and aunt are retired or current music educators. Almost all of my relatives at least played an instrument or sang in choir.
Q. What is your biggest pet peeve?
A. Musically speaking (besides the basic fundamentals like intonation, tone, etc.), string players playing in the wrong part of the bow.
Q. What is your favorite guilty pleasure food?
A. Burgers and pizza, with a side of extra exercise the next day.
Q. Which person from history, dead or alive, would you want to have lunch with and what would you discuss?
A. Leonard Bernstein, a brilliant man and musician with an intense passion for everything he did. We would discuss music, politics, sports and him helping me get a guest conducting gig with the New York Philharmonic.
Q. What is the most embarrassing moment of your life that you can share?
A. My first job was as band director in Baltimore, Ohio. At my very first concert while speaking from the stage, I somehow managed to call the townspeople "Baltimorons." It wasn't in a negative way, so I think most people didn't notice — or at least I hope so!
Q. What piece of music do you wish you had written and why?
A. "West Side Story" — masterful music and story.
Q. What book is on your nightstand right now?
A. Several books and magazines that won't get read until after the last concert of the semester! My family has given me "How Dogs Love Us" by Gregory Berns and "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho. I'll get to them eventually …
Q. Why is music important to humanity?
A. Music is in everything we do. It is an incredibly powerful tool for personal emotions, social change, rehabilitation, self-awareness, education, relationships … you name it.
Q. Why is it important to protect access to music education?
A. We must continue to advocate for music in our schools. Like I said above: Music is in everything we do. We must also use music to teach young people how to be good people. Unfortunately, not all decision makers are musicians or even artists. Once something is cut financially, it is that much harder to get it back. Keep your programs strong, perform often in your community, play at school functions regularly — stay visible!