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For the first time in over ten years, the Chrisman Junior High/High School band has a new director. Metamora native, Dayna Traver was recently hired to fill the vacancy left by director Jeff Nelson.
“I took to music at an early age and really felt at home in the band room,” Traver told us. “Band was a place where you could come and not be judged on ability or what you looked like and so on. My teachers were part of the music for all philosophy, which has also shaped my views on music.”
Dayna started playing in band in the fifth grade and continues to play to this day. Traver considers herself lucky with all the opportunities that she has been able to participate in. She’s played in concert bands, wind ensembles, jazz bands, clarinet ensemble, marching band, steel pan ensemble, choirs and many more.
“Most recently, I was playing in the Quincy Concert Band this past spring,” she said.
In her school days, Dayna played the alto saxophone. “This was the only instrument that I wanted to play when we were introduced to instruments for the band,” Traver said. “My older brother played the saxophone and I enjoyed going to watch his concerts and marching band competitions.”
After graduating from Metamora High School, Dayna attended Illinois Central College for two years, then transferred to Western Illinois University, where she continued to play the saxophone.
When going to school to be a music educator, you have to learn how to play and teach all instruments. “I learned all the band instruments, piano, all of the string instruments, steel pan and classroom instruments like harmonica, recorder, ukulele, guitar, band bells and many others,” she said. “I am a woodwind specialist, so I mainly play saxophone, flute, and clarinet. I also play guitar and ukulele frequently in my free time and for guitar class.”
Just like any other teacher, Dayna had clinical experience in the classroom while taking college courses and did a semester of student teaching in the classroom everyday. Traver’s student teaching took place in Pekin, Illinois.
“I started with nine weeks of the semester at the High School where I worked with two bands, an orchestra, the jazz band and a percussion class, then I moved to the middle schools and traveled between five schools,” Traver said. “We would have fifth and sixth grade band in the morning before school started, then during the school day, we would travel around to each school and do private lessons with each of the instruments in the band.”
Once Dayna graduated, she began teaching in Quincy, Illinois. In Quincy, Dayna taught fourth and fifth grade general music and assisted with the sixth grade band and marching band. “I also had a woodwind private lesson studio of thirteen students, ranging from fourth grade to seniors in high school that I would teach after school four days a week.”
Dayna made the decision to come to Chrisman after her significant other, who is also a band instructor accepted his dream position. “It was a position that was held by his mom for several years until he was born.” The couple decided to make the move to Savoy, Illinois to both pursue their dream careers of teaching band full time. “We also made the move closer to both of our families which was also very important to us,” Dayna said. “Being in Quincy, we were about three and a half hours away.”
Making the move from a larger school, like Quincy, to a smaller school has been a bit of a learning curve. Before, Traver had two teams of six people who she was able to bounce ideas off of along with a department with twenty music teachers.
“Now, being in Chrisman, I am the only person in my department and have to make all the decisions myself, which is a little intimidating,” Dayna said. “It has really helped me stop being indecisive and stick to my decisions.”
Dayna hopes to bring her woodwind experience to the program, having a background and knowledge in this area will help make the program even stronger. As far as learning new songs, as of now, the band has been playing through music in the already existing music library. “We are focusing on building up fundamentals again after summer break and making music as a whole unit versus individuals,” she said. “We may add more pieces to the library as the years progress, but for now we have a lot to chose from.”
When it comes to teaching, Dayna looks back to what she was taught as a student and projects those morals into her students. “I had several teachers and professionals that influenced me throughout my journey through school. They had a lasting impact on my life and I think about my experiences I had in their ensembles and classes to this day,” Dayna said. “I wanted to have that kind of impact on my students just like my teachers did.”
In the future, Dayna plans to stay in Chrisman for the long haul. The community and students have welcomed her into the program with open arms. Just a few months into teaching at the district, she’s already had so much fun so far.
“I have told them since day one, ‘This is your band. You make it great, I just wave my arms in the front’. I am really enjoying the year so far with these groups and I can not wait to see where we will grow from here.”