Dayton High School offers many programs at the Summer Innovations Academy, to allow students to build on the skills developed throughout the school year and, more importantly, to connect students with their community. One of these summer programs was the Dayton Summer Band Program: a program dedicated to helping students maintain their music skills from the previous school year. Our experience has been nothing short of inspiring. 

Band instructor Mr. Garrett (left) conducts the band

At the end of the 2019 school year, Mr. Garrett, the Dayton Junior High/High School band director, considered the rigorous work of each band student and how their ethic turned them into valuable musicians throughout the school year. Knowing the importance of maintaining our crucial skills, Mr. Garrett decided to create a three-part program every week during the summer that encouraged students to bring their instruments and come together with the band they spent their school year with. The three classes offered were a marching band class, pep band class where students could practice and refine the songs they already knew, and a jazz band where students were allowed the opportunity to explore a new genre of music. 

Because of Dayton School District’s previous qualification for state band competition, the expectations from both Mr. Garrett and the students were high. With these new expectations, came much more responsibility and the summer program kept these expectations relevant. 

The classes gave students the incentive to practice and learn over the summer alongside their student peers. Mr. Garrett expressed that building a learning community of students who had similar goals, could inspire others and make them feel motivated to participate. Though it was difficult to dedicate to playing over the summer, having the weekly class made us want to practice. It gave us a chance to see our friends while also building music skills and character. The program even allowed us to expand our horizons and try playing a variety of new instruments that we wouldn’t have been able to try in a regular class. 

Emily Carter playing the flute

“Learning about how many types of music there are beyond what we learn in class was very encouraging,” said Emily Carter, a sophomore in the band program. “Pushing ourselves during the summer kept our momentum and encouraged us to practice on our own time,” Emily explained that her role in the class allowed her to build on both music skills and life skills. Her experience not only allowed her to pursue her musical aspirations but also to develop a sense of community with the people that attended each week; “I will never forget the connections I formed throughout the summer.” she said. 

Mr. Garrett’s experience was as encouraging for him as it was for his students. Being a music instructor, he is all too familiar with the struggle of keeping his students inspired over the summer. So his new program was game-changing. “Creating a community for the students to feel comfortable in, allowed the utmost growth in their musical skills.” He explained.

Due to new developments such as those in the Summer Innovations Academy, band students are enabled to not only learn their instruments throughout the school year, but year-round. Moving forward, this program is contributing to the long term success of the Dayton band and, more importantly, empowering students to push themselves above and beyond the school year.


This article was written by Emily Carter and Hannah White, who are both band students at Dayton High School as well as members of the Dayton Blog Squad. Emily and Hannah are both aspiring writers with a deep rooted passion for storytelling and music, and their similar interests helped them voice their shared experiences from different perspectives. Both loved writing together to create this story and anticipate writing more in the future.