Harwood Music Department Switches Up The Beat

Astrid Kahn, Student Writer

At the end of this year, two-thirds of Harwood’s music department’s staff will be leaving. Chris Rivers, the band director, and Bruce Sklar, the jazz and assembly band director and Music Tech teacher, have both worked at Harwood for about 30 years. Next year, the music teachers will be the current chorus teacher Molly Clark, and new hire Brian Boyes from Cabot School.

Mr. Boyes has been teaching at Cabot for 25 years. He has accomplished a lot there, from starting the school’s music program to giving students a more authentic experience by performing live at concerts and recording albums. He also was awarded a Rowland Fellowship to bring more project-based arts to the school, which led to SoundCheck, a youth social justice band featuring high school musicians representing schools from around the region. He also founded and leads the Saturn People’s Sound Collective, a twenty piece big band.

As for our current teachers, Mr. Rivers and Mr. Sklar have put in a combined 63 years at Harwood. In their time here, they have started the private lesson program, staged multiple community concerts, plays, and musicals, and created the jazz and assembly bands.

They have even been acknowledged by the Grammy Foundation: “The Grammy Foundation recognized us as a signature school back in the early two thousands, and that was really gratifying and kind of a cool thing for such a small school in Vermont to be recognized,” Mr. Rivers said. The jazz band, led by Mr. Sklar, has also won competitions at Berklee College of Music. 

Mr. Sklar noted that other instructors are often surprised by Harwood’s appearance: “You’re sitting in the Heinz Auditorium and all your kids are somewhere in this huge room behind you, and when they’re announcing the winners they keep calling to the stage ‘Harwood Union in South Duxbury, Vermont.’ One of the band directors sitting next to me said, ‘Where the expletive is South Duxbury, Vermont?’ I said let me tell you, we got something going on here.”

We owe a lot of gratitude to Mr. Rivers and Mr. Sklar for helping to create the music program, and we look forward to seeing how it grows with Mr. Boyes’ help.