Dr. Duncan – The Future of Music


Taylor Albert, Reporter

Dr. Duncan, Director of Fine Arts at Ball High, has an interesting background relating to music and the study of instruments. He is the head budgeter of all band, choir, theater, art, and dance groups in the district. When he became an administrator, he was the administrator of Fine Arts and always wanted to be the administrator that he wishes he had as a teacher. “My job is to make their [fine arts teachers] job easier” Duncan said. As director, he budgets the group’s ability to do things based on cost. As much as he would love to do all these things for each Fine Arts group, he must set boundaries and find other ways to raise money for them.

Dr. Duncan started off as a band director, then went to be inherently involved in seminarian music. He was a seminarian but has now progressed to be a priest and a bishop. “It doesn’t pay a lot of money, but it is a cool thing to say, and you get to wear a funny hat.”

While working on his doctorate, Duncan worked for the Diocese of Memphis as head interpreter and musician. Following his graduation from Memphis, he went to be a college professor. In 1999, he moved to Texas and taught in La Marque as an elementary music teacher., but he wanted to live near the ocean, on Galveston Island if possible.

Many of his family members leading back to the 1920s have lived and are buried in Galveston. For 10 years, he was an elementary music specialist in La Marque. “Mr. Duncan, you need to look at this job, because it’s calling for you.” his boss told him when GISD had a job opening.

Duncan has visited and lived in many places, including India where he did his dissertation work. He traveled to Japan where he purchased an electric and original version of the Koto, (a stringed instrument) dating from the 1920s in its design. He had it to repair some of the strings on it, as he also repairs many instruments in his office. He improves the way he sees each instrument and thinks of ways to fix them since they are from other countries. He has collected and rebuilt instruments from various places and time periods.

“If someone would pay me to just travel the world and listen to other people play music and learn how to play their instruments and learn how to talk about them, I would do that in a minute.” he said while talking about Research Assistance as a job.

He has worked for the Galveston ISD since 2008, four months before Hurricane Ike. He explained his first year was total chaos; “My first year was ‘Oh my God I have lost a quarter of a million dollars at Central,’ – that’s how much it cost us to repair the instruments there.” However, insurance covered the bulk of expenses.

Duncan describes one of his saddest memories was walking into Central and seeing a Grand White piano that had floated across the room and sank into the “slime water.” There was no way to repair it because there had been too much damage.

After the catastrophe that devastated Texas, Duncan went asking for help, and was blessed with donations for his students. John Tesh, American pianist, donated a piano to Central. Even when the schools he worked at had no money to fund band, Duncan would allow kids to use his instruments. He always wants the best for his students and would give anything to them.