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70 Patricia Avenue • Dunedin, FL 34698 • 727-469-4112 ext. 2120

 

Director, David Bruce Mason Band Boosters and Chairpersons Handbook
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Stirling, Scotland

The City of Dunedin, Florida has had a long tradition of a Scottish heritage. The City of Dunedin recognizes Stirling, Scotland as a sister city. The Highlander Band also shares this same heritage.

In 1957, representatives of the Dunedin business community, the Dunedin Junior High School, and the Band Boosters united to transform the Junior High School Band into the Highlander Band. These founding fathers were Mr. Bob Longstreet, St. Petersburg Independent Newspaper; Mr. Dick Danford, Principal of Dunedin Junior High School; Mr. Bill Allen, Bandmaster of Dunedin Junior High School; and Mr. Cliff Burris, President of the Band Boosters Association.

The owner of the Independent, Lord Thompson of Scotland, donated the first set of bagpipes for the band. The Band Booster Association raised funds for the second set. An experienced military piper, Mr. Matt Forsythe, came forward to help condition the pipes. He also became the first instructor for the pipers and thus, the Highlander Band was formed.

 

Bill AllenMr. Bill Allen laid the foundation for the Scottish heritage of the band and was an inspiration to his students. One of those students was so inspired by Mr. Allen that she later became the second director of the Highlander Bands, Mrs. Mary Jo Blair. Mr. Allen guided the band from the time that Dunedin Highland Junior High opened through the transition to Dunedin Highland Middle School. He produced several outstanding recordings of the band during his tenure. When he retired he was inducted into the American Band Director's Hall of Fame and received letters of congratulations from no less than Leonard Bernstein.

 

Mary Jo BlairMary Jo Blair, a former student of Mr. Allen's, was band director of DHMS from 1988 until 2006. During those years the Highlander Band had notable performances in Atlanta - Georgia, Washington - DC and New York City. Mrs. Blair is listed in "Who's Who Among America's Teachers" and was twice honored as "Teacher of the Year" at DHMS.

 

 

 

 

 

David Bruce MasonDavid Bruce Mason is a graduate of Florida State University. He became band director at DHMS in 2007, after 18 years at Riviera Middle School in St. Petersburg and 2 years at Fernandina Beach Middle School on Amelia Island. Mr. Mason's bands have received "Superior" ratings at concert band evaluations for 17 out of the past 19 years, including his first year at DHMS.

As a former City Band Piper and long time resident of Dunedin, Mr. Mason continues the long tradition of the Scottish heritage of the band. Mr. Mason writes many of the arrangements that the band plays, incorporating the Great Highland Bagpipes within the concert band. Mr. Mason is proud to be only the 3rd director at this school in its half century of existence. While changing the Highlander Band into a completely kilted unit for the first time, Mr. Mason continues the traditions established by Mr. Allen and Mrs. Blair




Mr. Sandy Keith started his piping at the age of 11 at the College of Piping in Glasgow, Scotland. He immigrated to Canada with his parents when he was 17. After having joined the Royal Canadian Air Force, he became the Pipe Major of the Erskine Pipe Band. He led them through the ranks of grade 3 to grade 1. Today he serves as the Pipe Major for the City of Dunedin Pipe Band (Grade 2) and instructs the Elliot Pipe Band (Grade 4), Dunedin High School Pipe Bands (Grade 4 & 5), and the Dunedin Highland Middle School Pipe Band (Grade 5). All these pipe bands are in the small town of Dunedin, FL. Mr. Keith has compiled a book called "The Florida Collection" of Bagpipe Music, much of which is his own compositions over the last 25 years.

 



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Page updated sept 2009