The traditional public high school approach to music education typically includes the classics and a marching band mentality. Music courses at Vanguard take a more commercial, holistic approach. An approach that incorporates lessons learned in other classes like poetry, English and grammar in order to craft lyrics and tell a story.
“I can give them skills that they cannot get at other schools, simply because public schools do not have the State’s approval to teach it” said Steve Dansby, Vanguard’s music teacher. “But let’s face it, you cannot make a living as a marching trombonist.”
At Vanguard flutes and french horns are replaced with drum kits, electric guitars and amplifiers. Radio airplay of a chart topping hit is the goal rather than a flawless marching performance at halftime of a football game.
According to Dansby, most of the kids that attend Vanguard lean more towards the commercial side of music anyway. Country music singer, songwriter and Grammy nominee Pat Green attended Vanguard, as did other powerful individuals in the recording industry.
“I really look for passionate people and usually passionate people are the ones that got a lot out of school”, said Bill Hearn, 1977 graduate of Vanguard and president of EMI’s Christian Music Group in Nashville, TN.
Dansby went on to say, “I would eventually like to start a record company at Vanguard as a business class. I would like to have a president, A&R people and marketing. Everything that goes along with the music business. Its a choice of the kids. Every kid at Vanguard has the patience and determination.”