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Cultivating a Community of Music Lovers from the Military to the Classroom

November 03, 2021 3:40 PM | Ashley (Administrator)

Jack Kinsella, the Director of Bands at Jerling Jr. High and Liberty Schools, has a passion for sharing music with the world.

And it all started in the 7th grade.

“I was inspired by my teachers,” said Jack. In middle school, “my band directors encouraged me to attend a military band concert. That was just an amazing experience.”

That concert officially set Jack on the path to a career in music. After participating in band all through high school, Jack attended Northwestern University to study tuba and music education with a plan to teach and perform music for a living.

He landed a teaching position immediately after college where he still teaches today, accomplishing his first goal.

And then within his first year of teaching, he was also able to achieve his second goal - to perform - by joining the Illinois Air National Guard to play in their military band.

“It’s been a tremendous experience over the past 21 years,” Jack said, referring to his time in the Air National Guard. “I’ve performed in multiple states across the country - from coast to coast. Our performances celebrate our nation’s history through music, while also supporting our troops, communities, and veterans.”

It was important to Jack to pursue a position in a military band, inspired by that concert in 7th grade and the patriotic music of the late 80s.

“It was that national pride and the power of music -- how it has influenced our country,” said Jack. “It was something I had to be a part of.”

As a Senior Master Sergeant (SMSgt) in the 566th Air Force Band, he most often is the tuba player, but plays a variety of other brass instruments depending on the mission.

He has even played “Taps” on the bugle at the Abraham Lincoln National cemetery. Of course, as a band director, he plays a multitude of instruments - everything from brass to woodwinds to percussion.

Jack has been teaching band for grades 5 through 8 since 1999. Over the years, he prides himself on not only sharing his love of music with students, but also creating a sense of community for the kids.

“I, as a student, appreciated the applause, but I also appreciated the band community I grew up in,” he said. “Creating that sense of band community for our students and their families has been tremendous. I’m still in touch with many of my students after they graduate and get to see them perform in bands throughout the years.”

Those bands have included Big Ten schools, like Illinois and Iowa, and also Notre Dame.

This sense of community is also present in the military band. But with the community also comes connection, an important aspect of the military band for Jack.

“Hopefully, the excellence that we execute through our music and performance represents the excellence of all the jobs that so many tremendous men and women are doing in the military,” he said. “When I appear in uniform, I am representing an untold number of men and women doing dangerous jobs that are necessary for our defense.”

Jack is retiring from the Illinois National Guard this coming January.

Thank you Jack for serving our country and the future leaders of this country!

Jack stressed he feels he is a torchbearer in music, and that it is his job to pass the torch, so to speak. This photo is an awesome example of that! 

Pictured is Jack, second from left, with his junior high school band director Ray Forlenza (far left), and his past student who is now a band director himself, Mike Roberts (third from left), and Ray’s son Nick, who was taught by Mike and is studying to be a band director, too!

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