Senior staff writer
Former Beech Grove High School music teacher Scott Bradford misses teaching and inspiring students.
Bradford left the school where he served as choral director for 26 years to become choral education director for the Indiana State School Music Association, whose headquarters are at 100 E. Thompson Road. He succeeds former Center Grove High School teacher Rusty Biel, who retired after 15 years with the association.
“I miss the students 3,000 percent,” said Bradford while seated in Beech Grove’s Mike McMorrow Auditorium, where he was assisting with the upcoming fall production. “I’m definitely going through a transition because these students have been my job, my life and my passion.”
While at Beech Grove his impact extended from the classroom to behind the stage in the auditorium, state choral finals, choral jazz and performances in China. Bradford was part of the group that planned renovations and improvements to the auditorium and expanded music classrooms at Beech Grove.
He split his duties in August between the association and the school, where he voluntarily helped successor Michael Dean in the transition.
Bradford was choir director and assistant band director at Forest Parke in Dubois County for three years before his tenure at BGHS. He and BGHS drama director Andrew Busch were among the co-founders of the Beech Grove Theatre Guild.
He knows his influence at the ISSMA expands from the classroom to all music students in secondary schools throughout Indiana.
“This is a great position because I can assist more kids than I ever could at just one high school building,” Bradford said. “I just won’t have that direct contact.”
Bradford’s duties include choral and band responsibilities. He has been assisting with organizing marching band contests, which are underway, as well as planning for choral contests in the spring.
Whether a festival or competitive performance with musicians or choral, the association secures venues, hires judges, coordinates facility usage and, most significantly, provides assessments for the performers and trains judges.
“A large part of what we do is outreach to teachers,” Bradford said. “We help the teachers who help the students with what is expected.”
Beech Grove athletic director Matt English compares Bradford’s duties as being an athletic director for music on a statewide level.
The ISSMA primarily educates band and music teachers in making assessments with the emphasis upon performance. The organization develops adjudication sheets for judges, who also serve as guidelines for students in band, choir and vocal jazz. The agency is guided by an executive board.
The inaugural statewide vocal jazz competition next spring is an outgrowth of Bradford’s introduction of vocal jazz at Beech Grove several years ago and ongoing corroboration with Butler University that led to student performances in China in 2011.
Choral competitions through the ISSMA are for all schools in one class, unlike the marching band contests.
“There’s no class system so it is really a big deal for a small school to make it to the state finals in choral,” Bradford said.
“I’ve learned so much in a short time,” Bradford said after being with ISSMA for one month. “This is the place where I want to be able to continue the professional development of music in the state.”
The agency collaborates with a variety of institutions, including the National Association of Music Educators, Indiana Choral Directors Association, American Choral Directors Association and band organizations.
Bradford is married and has two grown children.