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2024 Yamaha "40 Under 40" educator Raymond Cannon

Raymond William Cannon

Director of Beginning Band
Addison School District 4
Addison, Illinois

Growing a small music program with limited resources takes vision and a lot of hard work. Director of Beginning Band Raymond William Cannon credits his fellow performing arts colleagues in Addison School District 4, an elementary district of nine schools, who share his dream for student success and program growth. “Our performing arts team has worked tirelessly to grow our program and ensure student success,” he explains. “We have worked with our district administration to modernize our facilities, provide funding for new instrument purchases and to grow and foster our music parents’ organization.”

The music teachers ask 4th- and 5th-grade teachers to encourage students to participate in 5th grade band and orchestra, they work with their young musicians to foster a mentorship program, and they collaborate with parents to grow a robust music advocacy program. Cannon and his colleagues also reach out to the community. “Local businesses help fundraise and provide opportunities for the program. Our local community members and vendors have also helped with student-specific needs, often donating instruments and items that the school doesn’t possess or adapting instruments to meet students’ physical abilities. This allows us to always have an instrument for our young musicians,” he explains.

Cannon went above and beyond when a young musician injured his arm. Rather than have the student join the band after he healed, Cannon used CAD software and designed a mount that would attach to a cymbal stand. After the model was created, it was printed by the 3D printing club for the student to use. The stand held the instrument, and the student was able to learn and play alongside his peers. Cannon uploaded the model to multiple band director groups for others to use free of charge.

According to Cannon, a key to the success of the Addison music program is giving all stakeholders a voice. “Our ensembles focus on student voice and choice,” he says. “Our students and graduates have a voice in the program, which gives them ownership and encourages them to help the program grow.”

Communication with band families is provided in multiple languages with opportunities for parents to learn with their young musicians. “This allows parents to take an active and involved role in our music program through our Addison Music Parents Organization. This organization plays a vital role in giving parent choice in our program,” he says.

Cannon strives to teach his students that music is a lifelong activity. “Our program may be small, but we are mighty. We are very fortunate to work in a district that believes in our mission of ‘music for all.’ This mindset allows us to overcome adversity and ensure that all students have access to music education regardless of any barriers.”