Andrew Erb grew up hearing the Wolverine Marching Band at festivals and parades and he says the storied Grove City College ensemble made a tremendous impression on him. Now, it is his turn to make an impression on the band.
Erb, of West Middlesex, Pa., is Grove City College’s new band director, taking over from Dr. Joseph Pisano ’94, who resigned this spring after 23 years at the College. Erb is a trumpet player and lifelong area resident who has made a name for himself as a top-notch music educator and band builder.
He comes to the College from Thiel College, Greenville, Pa., where he was director of bands and chair of the Performing Arts Department. In 2010, Erb founded Thiel’s marching band in built it into a sizable and reputable ensemble, including color guard and majorettes. Previously, he served as band director at Riverview High School, Oakmont, Pa., and Sharpsville (Pa.) High School, where he nearly doubled the size of the band.
Erb said he was drawn to Grove City College by its national reputation for academic excellence, a focus on faith and quality programs, but what “sealed the deal” was interacting with students he met while interviewing for the job.
“They made me feel welcome during my visit to campus, and I could tell that they were completely invested in their band program,” he said. Their commitment inspired Erb to make one of his own: “I made a promise to the students that I would remain faithful to their long-standing and established traditions, while also providing an innovative approach to marching band. I plan on remaining faithful to that promise. I have already begun the task of identifying those things that help to define the Wolverine Marching Band, and will make sure that those important traditions remain.”
“I also hope to focus on recruiting,” Erb said. “I would love to see the band membership increase over the next few years while maintaining the high quality product that the band has become known for.”
Erb will also direct the College’s Concert Band and Wind Ensemble. He said he plans to expand their repertoire and challenge the musicians musically and intellectually. Another goal, he said, is to spend time recording the bands, particularly the wind ensemble, to raise the program’s profile.
As well as a music educator, Erb is professional trumpeter, with a string of performance credits that includes working with performers such as Ben Vereen and Wayne Newton, playing with the Cleveland Fats Blues Band and as an opening act for the Commodores, Foreigner and Bobby Blue Bland.
“Performing professionally keeps me at the top of my musical game, so to speak,” Erb said. “Practicing what I preach is important, as I want to be a positive role model for my students. It allows me to regularly interact with other professional musicians, network and learn from them. I can bring these experiences and knowledge back to my own students and incorporate it into my own teaching.”
Erb has extensive experience as a clinician and guest conductor for high school and college band festivals and made a number of presentations on subjects as diverse as the impact of socioeconomic status on student musicians, performance anxiety in adult community musicians, jazz improvisation, chamber music and the use of software in music education.
He holds a Master’s Degree in Trumpet Performance from Youngstown State University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from Westminster College. He anticipates completing his doctoral studies in Music Education from Boston University this fall. He is a member of Pennsylvania Music Educators Association, National Association for Music Educators and Pennsylvania Collegiate Bandmasters’ Association.
For more about the Department of Music and ensembles at Grove City College, visit www.gcc.edu/musi.