Guest conductor says marching band ‘best prevention program there is’

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 May 2015 at 12:00 am

Mike Dreyfus, a substance abuse counselor, says band teaches commitment and discipline

Mike Dreyfus

MEDINA Mike Dreyfus has watched the Medina Mustangs perform hundreds of times. He still gets caught up in the emotion of the music and choreography of seeing 100-plus kids performing in unison.

“I still feel smitten by it all,” Dreyfus said. “I still get goose bumps when they hit on impact.”

Dreyfus has been an active band booster for nearly two decades. He won a guest conductor contest and will lead the marching band on Monday’s parade that begins at 11 a.m. The band will go from the former Fisher-Price on Park Avenue to Main Street and then to State Street Park. It’s about a 2-mile route.

Community members paid $1 to vote for one of five guest conductors. Dreyfus emerged the winner. He has been an active fund-raiser and vocal cheerleader for the band.

His son Kip joined as an eighth grader and graduated in 2003. Mike and his wife Kathy have stayed band enthusiasts even after their son graduated.

“In band there is a sense of family,” Dreyfus said. “It’s a giant trust exercise.”

File photo – The Medina Mustang Band is pictured in last year’s Memorial Day parade.

No one sits the bench in band, Dreyfus said, and boys and girls share leadership roles.

“These guys and gals are friends,” Dreyfus said. “Everybody is equal. It’s positive competition and it’s gender neutral.”

Dreyfus sees other benefits with a demanding program such as the band. He has worked 40 years with people who struggle to be law-abiding citizens in his roles as probation officer for 20 years and then as a substance abuse counselor for two decades.

The band connects students to the community, teaching them discipline and drawing them away from temptations with drugs and alcohol.

“It is the best prevention program there is,” Dreyfus said. “I’ve seen the value of this whole program for the kids involved. The band program screws the kids’ heads on straight. It teaches them commitment. It teaches discipline and focus.”

Dreyfus played football in high school and college. He admitted he’s a little nervous about leading the band on Memorial Day.

“I know nothing about this,” he said about conducting. “The only thing I play is the stereo.”