Since moving to Flagstaff in the summer of 2006, Tim McKay has held a variety of positions as a music teacher, administrator, and performer. He currently serves as the Band and Choir Director at Mount Elden Middle School. Tim is also in his second year as Band Chairperson for the Northern Arizona Middle School/Junior High School Honor Music Festival, and is in his eighth year as a trombonist with the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra.
As the band and choir director at Mount Elden, Tim currently has over 150 sixth through eighth grade students who participate in the Choir, Beginning Band, Concert Band, and Symphonic Band. During his three years at MEMS, his ensembles have received Superior ratings at adjudication festivals in Arizona. His groups have given yearly performances at FUSD Elementary schools and with the Flagstaff High School Marching Band at FHS Football games. Tim believes in developing a well rounded musician in each of his students, and has introduced a “composer of the week” project in which all MEMS music students study the music of a single composer each week, emphasizing many of the most important composers across music history, such as Bach, Mozart, Copland, and Debussy, as well as some less-traditional composers such as Duke Ellington and John Williams. This project has proven to be a very effective complement to the already existing “Symphony School” program at Mount Elden Middle School, which Tim assists in coordinating. As a Symphony School, Mount Elden students are offered field trips to attend up to six Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra dress rehearsals each school year.
For most of his first 3 years in Flagstaff, Tim was employed as the Program Coordinator for the Curry Summer Music Camp and the Community Music and Dance Academy at Northern Arizona University. In this administrative position, Tim was responsible for the management of budgets, staffing, student enrollment, advertising, and program development. During his years in this role, Tim was able to quickly become an active and involved member in Arizona’s music education community from the collegiate students and faculty down through the youngest participants in the Curry Summer Music Camp, the Suzuki Strings program, and the Music and Dance Academy Dance Troupe.
Tim left his post with NAU to accept the position as Band, Jazz, Orchestra, and Guitar teacher at Sinagua High School. Under his direction, the SHS Marching Band received a Superior rating at the State Championships, performing an arrangement of Leonard Bernstein’s music from the musical West Side Story, with marching drill of Tim’s own design. The culminating event for the instrumental ensembles at SHS that year was a concert involving a full orchestra of strings, winds, and percussion, performing the music of 4 separate film scores in coordination with a student-designed video projected on a screen above the performers. Unfortunately, SHS closed its doors at the end of that year, so Tim did not have the opportunity to build on the successes of this first year.
Apart from these full-time positions, Tim has had the pleasure of serving in other capacities as a music teacher in the Flagstaff region. He was conductor of the NAU Academy Orchestra (youth orchestra) for 3 semesters. He has been an adjudicator at various NAU School of Music concerto competitions and scholarship competitions, as well as the Quick Piano Scholarship competition held in Sedona. During the year between his positions at SHS and Mount Elden, Tim was able to stay active in FUSD, acting as the assistant band director to Jon Eder at Flagstaff High School. In that position Tim was very involved with the instruction of the FHS Marching Band, including design and instruction of the marching drill. During his first two years at Mount Elden, Tim continued to serve as the drill writer for the FHS Marching Band, as well as assisting in various capacities with the instruction of that ensemble.
From the nomination letter:
Timothy McKay is an amazing educator and he has gone far above expectations in instilling a love and passion for music in our communities middle school youth. It because of Mr. McKay and the education experience that he brings that my daughter has chosen to stay in the Flagstaff Unified School district rather then follow the path of her sibling. Last evening Mr. McKay put on a concert involving all levels of the MEMS band along with the bands from Sechrist, Marshall and Puente Elementary Schools. The elementary students (along with parents and friends) were given a treat performance to see both elementary and middle school students play amazing works of art together and infused this with the choirs from each of the schools. An amazing event! Additionally, Mr. McKay donates many hours of his personal time to his students, arranging for them to do performances at Festival and compete at both the state and regional level. Flagstaff is so blessed to have an educator of music that is as passionate, gifted, giving and kind as is Mr. McKay.
From another nomination letter:
Tim McKay is a dedicated and innovative teacher. His positive outlook and caring attitude create student musicians who want to practice and keep working to improve their performance. His goal is to have all of his students experience success, both in music and in their daily lives. He spends many hours of his personal time planning and reflecting on how to influence his students in a positive way.
Mr. McKay’s band and choir students write every day about selected band, symphonic, or choral pieces, enhancing their writing skills as well as their musical skills. This is a very creative way to integrate music with writing. He promotes and helps organize student field trips to the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra rehearsal about once a month, allowing his students to experience a high caliber of musicianship and observe a professional group’s rehearsal techniques.
Each year, his students participate individually in Solo and Ensemble Festival and audition for the Regional Honor Band and Honor Choir; he also helps them with their music skills during lunch or after school as needed. Many of his choir students take part in our school variety show, performing for their peers and their parents.
Mr. McKay’s bands and choir are rated at large groups festivals in northern Arizona and in the Phoenix area. He has created arrangements for the band, choir, and orchestra to play in large, combination performances for the student body and for evening concerts for the public. He works closely with elementary music teachers to improve and expand the music program; they have put on a combined concert with elementary and middle school groups performing together. He has taken his groups to share their music during the Celebrate Youth Day at the Flagstaff Mall. In addition, Mr. McKay has arranged for our middle school students to rehearse and then perform with the Flagstaff High School band at a football game in the NAU Dome.
All of these opportunities, provided by Mr. McKay, encourage our students to enjoy the arts throughout their lives.