Mark Kelly (1926 -2017)

compiled by editors | January 2018

    Highly respected conductor Mark Kelly, Director of Bands at Bowling Green State University from 1966 to 1994, passed away on December 12. In 1995 Bowling Green named a rehearsal room after Kelly. He was born in Centerville, Iowa and graduate from the University of Iowa. He taught for 15 years in Iowa before coming to Bowling Green. He was a member of the American Bandmasters As­so­ciation and served as its president in 1990. He received the Midwest Clinic Medal of Honor in 2003. Kelly was interviewed by The Instrumentalist in October 1991. We printed excerpts from that conversation below.

    “At rehearsals I am never the last person to enter the band room, but wait on the podium saying ‘Come on, clock, come on.’ I never start a rehearsal late; if we are scheduled to start at 3:30, when the clock hits 3:30, boom, we’re off.

    “Every time I go into a rehearsal I know exactly how many minutes I will spend on each tune. I use my watch because if I didn’t, I would probably lose track of things. I pace myself, and I pace rehearsals. If I have four pieces at various levels of difficulty, I would not start or end with the toughest. I don’t subscribe to the view that kids should leave the room singing and happy. Sometimes I would rather they leave concerned.

    “I don’t tape the first day of rehearsals because I can remember where the problems are for a few days without being reminded by a tape recorder. After a rehearsal I think about what happened. The secret to efficient rehearsing is to plan your work and work your plan. This is one of the hardest things for student teachers to learn. They may plan their work, but they don’t know how to work their plan. One of the big things about a rehearsal is what you do after it is over. I sit in my office with my yellow notepad and recall all the things that went wrong.

    “When we get closer to a concert, I throw on the tape recorder in my band library at night and sit there with my yellow notepad and headphones, feeling unhappy. I make notations; I am my own adjudicator. In rehearsal I may have been oblivious to the timpani while concentrating on other things, but with the tape I notice that the timpani didn’t come in. Some directors don’t need a tape recorder, but that’s what works for me.”