Illinois native fulfills promise by moving to Michigan, taking over as CASD band director
Carlie Wilson | Staff Writer
Jeff Muraida, a native to Evergreen Park, Illinois, moved nearly 400 miles from Morris, Illinois, to accept the job as the Crawford AuSable School District’s band director, fulfilling a promise he made many years ago.
Muraida’s wife, originally a Michigan native, moved to Chicago 16 years prior, and as part of the deal, Jeff promised that if the opportunity to move with her back home to Michigan arose, the family would take it.
“I heard about this particular job from my wife’s sister-in-law, an employee at Marshall Music here in town. She told me about the opening. I was really encouraged to go after the job because of my wife’s family,” said Muraida.
“We hadn’t been dating more than six months when she made the move to Chicago, and from that point on I told her that if I could get her back home I would. Fifteen years later it finally happened,” said Muraida.
According to Muraida, the move to Grayling offered a few learning curves, but had many benefits to offer as well.
“I’ve been doing this for 16 years now. The easiest adjustment is the fact that I’m not new to this. I know what I am supposed to do as a director, and I know what to expect from my students,” said Muraida.
“The hardest adjustment is the teaching schedule, going from being housed in one building all day to having to be in three separate buildings in one day with three separate skill levels has been interesting. Fun, but interesting,” said Muraida.
“It’s a crazy busy schedule with the constant moving around and the constant level changes, but it makes the day go by really fast. It’s been awhile since I’ve taught the beginning level courses, the youngsters; it’s been four or five years since I’ve been able to teach them so it’s been really fun getting back into that level of teaching. I love the schedule because I get to watch and teach these kids that are just starting out how to play their instruments and then I get to watch them grow and perfect their craft as they get older,” said Muraida.
Has he made any adjustments to the band program?
“As a teacher I’ve made a few changes, the biggest one being the marching band staying the entire football game. This change came from how I feel personally; it’s important to stay connected. The football team isn’t leaving early, the student section isn’t leaving early, the cheerleaders aren’t leaving early, why should the band leave early? It’s all part of the school community and creating the atmosphere of teamwork and spirit,” said Muraida.
“As a teacher, a director, I tell my students that the two most important songs they will ever play are the Star Spangled Banner and the school’s fight song, those are the two pieces of music they play that are important to more than just the band, but they are important to the school and the community as a whole. It’s meant to bring up the camaraderie and the spirit of the school. It’s played at times of celebration; it’s a vital part of the role of the band. It’s important because it raises the level of spirit for the school,” said Muraida.
Before his retirement from the Grayling school district, Matt Bishop, the previous band director, offered Muraida some words of advice.
“His words of advice were to enjoy the ride, enjoy working with the students and creating music,” said Muraida. “That’s what I’m doing, and I’m enjoying it. The students have been great, the parents have been supportive, and we’re enjoying the ride together. I learn a little from them and they learn a little from me every day. As we do that we’re creating more than just music, we’re creating a bond on a personal level and a musical level.”