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Swan Song for Macomb Band Director

Hope Kirwan

A member of the Macomb Band Booster club described David Wetmore as “the perfect mix of a parent, a teacher and a coach.”

In response to that description, Wetmore could only laugh.

“That probably pretty aptly describes me,” said Wetmore. “But I think that’s what everybody needs to be. Sometimes you need to be teaching and sometimes you need to be admonishing and trying to push people beyond what they think they can do.”

Wetmore is originally from Ohio. He came to Macomb High School in 1985 after several years of performing trumpet with many symphonies and ensembles.

Scott Coker, who was a sophomore in Wetmore’s first band at MHS, said Wetmore began forming positive relationships with his students from the very beginning.

Sometimes you need to be teaching and sometimes you need to be admonishing and trying to push people beyond what they think they can do.

“Now I have kids in band with Mr. Wetmore, so it’s really nice to see them spending time with him also,” said Coker, who is the father of three band students at Macomb High and Edison Schools.

With an award-winning marching band and nationally-recognized concert ensemble, the band program at Macomb High School has accomplished a lot during the past 29 years.

But Wetmore does not mark success by the many trophies around the band room. 

Credit Hope Kirwan

“The most rewarding thing for me has been watching the musical growth of students and the personal growth of students,” said Wetmore.

“Sometimes you don’t see the fruits of that until afterwards. Five years after, someone will stop in or send you a note and tell you how much it meant to be in your class, and that really has been great payment.”

Wetmore’s influence on young musicians will not end with his final performance during the Heritage Days Parade in June.

“After he retires, I think I’m definitely going to keep him on my speed dial because there’s always something that I can learn from Mr. Wetmore,” said Doug Mattsey, who is band director for the junior high school.

Band alumni and the booster club have started what they call “The Wetmore Project” to celebrate Wetmore’s impact on the community.  Among other things, they’ve commissioned a piece in his honor. Colin DeJong, who is another of Wetmore’s former students, composed the piece, “On Macomb.”

Wetmore was amazed by all the celebrations that are planned.

“I guess I thought that at the end of the Heritage Days Parade, I would put the keys on the desk and walk out,” said Wetmore. “It’s just hard to imagine that anyone would pay that much attention.”

“On Macomb” will be performed by Macomb High’s Wind Symphony ensemble at its spring concert on Saturday, May 3 in Fellheimer Auditorium.