An Interview with Walter Kimsey

Forward by Principal Cohrs

Walter Kimsey joined the Merritt Academy's family in 2005.  He has been instrumentally responsible for improving the music education program for 11 years.  Mr. Kimsey's dedication to the music program and school is immeasurable.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Clawson, MI.  I met my wife Cherie, of 28 years in my high school band.  We live in Lapeer and have two children, Kristin and Josh, one grandson, one granddaughter on the way, and two dachshunds.

How did you get involved in music?

There was always music in our house while I was growing up, mostly bluegrass, country, and gospel.  My dad played banjo and guitar.  He taught me a few chords on the guitar, and I was hooked.

What was the first instrument you played?  

Guitar, then banjo, but when I had the opportunity to join band in fifth grade I dropped everything and started to focus on the trumpet.

Where did you go to college?

After high school, I attended Wayne State University for one year before being accepted into the United States Army Band program where I graduated from the Armed Forces School of Music in Little Creek, Virginia.  When my tour of duty ended, I attended Murray State University in Kentucky and later graduated from the University of Michigan Flint.

Did you play in band, symphony, or other?

In middle and high school I played in concert band, orchestra, jazz band, and marching band.  In the 113th United States Army Band I performed with the ceremonial band, concert band, jazz band, fusion band, and brass quintet.  In College I performed with concert bands, jazz bands, jazz/rock combos, marching bands, etc. took advantage of every performing opportunity that was available.          

What made you want to teach music?

First of all, I love music and I want to pass this love of music along to young people.  The people that have influenced me the most have been my former teachers. (Not just music teachers…) They were passionate about teaching and they truly cared about their students.  They didn’t just teach content, they used content as a tool to teach lifelong lessons like kindness, respect, responsibility, self-discipline, etc

What is your favorite part of teaching kids about music?

Music is a language that transcends all boundaries.  When the kids are working together and things are clicking…it is beautiful.

What can be the most challenging?   

Music is an art form.  It is scientific, mathematical, and theoretical.  It’s not always fun and games.                                                                                                                                               

What has been the most rewarding part of your career to date?

Seeing our music program grow into what it has become over the years has been wonderful.  Watching loyal members of our music program graduate, receive academic awards and honors, seeing them go on to college or the armed forces, hearing of their success after leaving Merritt has been extremely rewarding.    

What do you love about being at Merritt?

I love being part of a team that truly cares about every single student.

What would you like to see happen with the music department at Merritt?

We want to continue to grow our music program, to give the students quality performance opportunities.  We currently have some things in the works regarding marching band that is really exciting so stay tuned!

What is your favorite musical entertainment?

I listen to a lot... I really can’t narrow it down to a favorite time period, genre, group, or artist.  I go through stages.  Currently I am on a Chicago and Eagles kick!  I also like more current stuff like Cold Play, Green Day, Zac Brown, Mumford and Sons, and believe it or not G-Easy.