Remembering the West Bank School of Music

by Warren Park, West Bank School of Music Founder, June 20, 2022

Yes, the Music School ran on with a life of its own for quite a long time after I moved on, with a lot of dedicated people handling everything. My last involvement was my retirement from the board of directors in the year 2000. My official tenure as executive director was Sept 1970-April 1984. After that I had a special project that I did everything for, called the WBSM Jazz Composer Series, a bunch of funded concerts by local jazz composer-performers and their bands, usually seven concerts a year, over the course of ten years. Then I did other mild volunteer work and attending board meetings. I gave up teaching in 1984 also, so I spent a lot more time working on pianos after that, which was crucial to our survival. The Music School spun on for 17 years after I left completely, except for a few volunteer events. The last three years were spent in a new location in St. Paul not far from Hamline University. No official estimates were ever tallied as to the number of students who passed through its doors over the years, and the number of capable perform/instructors either. But the conservative estimate, doing some averaging, was at least 20,000 students, either taking private lessons, group classes or participating in the ensemble program (where people formed bands to become performing groups with specific styles that the players/singers shared an interest in).

A lot of good came from having gotten the whole operation wound up and sent on its way. Possibly 800 instructors helped out over the nearly 47 years of operation.

Dad, when he first found out (in 1970) that I had decided to form a music school (soon after getting my BA degree), asked me, "Are you sure you’re qualified to do that?" I answered, hesitantly, "Yes, I am." But in truth I was not experienced enough; it was very hard volunteer work and a great learning experience, with daily on-the-job training, which served me well. Also, the incredible musicians I worked with were what really made it succeed. And lots of dedicated board members and staff people, each taking care of things that I was poor at. It seemed to be an inspiring cause to a lot of folks, so I guess it was the right thing to do, especially at the time, when that sort of school was really needed in the Twin Cities. Lots of be proud of. I know Dad was eventually proud of me and the School, and even told his friends in Arizona about it often. I guess he approved once it got on the map.

See also the West Bank School of Music 30th Anniversary Memories.