New Mundelein band director brings a lifelong love of music
Keith Pitner, who has been playing the trombone since grade school, has taken over as the new band director at Mundelein High School. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
NAME: Keith Pitner
OCCUPATION: New band director at Mundelein High School
EDUCATION: Graduated from Dundee-Crown High School in Carpentersville; earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in 2011
Updated: October 7, 2012 6:02AM
MUNDELEIN — Keith Pitner started playing the trombone in elementary school and has loved music ever since.
“Obviously, I’m very passionate about what I’m doing,” said Pitner, the new band director at Mundelein High School. “Music has been a big part of my life for a long time.”
Pitner, 23, of Algonquin, joined the band department at MHS this summer and will head the school’s jazz program. He and band codirector Adam Gohr will teach jazz ensemble, jazz lab band, symphonic band, and beginning and intermediate guitar.
Pitner said he first became interested in music in grade school watching his older brother play the trumpet.
“When I start getting in to music, it wasn’t really a question of whether I was going to play an instrument, it was what instrument I was going to play,” he said. “I decided on the trombone.”
“By the time I was in fifth grade, I was participating in band and started taking private lessons at age 13,” he said. “By the time I was a junior in high school, I had decided I was going to study music in high school and college.”
While in high school, Pitner performed in the Elgin Community College Jazz Band. He graduated from Dundee-Crown High School in Carpentersville and then attended the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana where he earned a bachelor’s degree in music education in 2011.
He held temporary assignments with band programs at two schools in Naperville for eight months before landing the full-time position as band director at Mundelein High School.
While he had interviewed at other schools, Pitner said he was attracted to the award-winning band programs at MHS.
“It was the one program I knew was the right fit from the very start,” he said. “I knew the high level the program strives for and I wanted to be part of a program that was growing and strong. I have particular strengths and interest in working with jazz bands so to be named head of the jazz program was really exciting to me.”
Gohr, who is director of instrumental music at MHS, said he’s glad to have Pitner as part of the staff.
“He brings a lot of great experience to the program, particularly in the jazz area,” Gohr said. “He’s an all-around really great musician. He’s in charge of the jazz program. I think he’ll be able to bring new material to the table to enhance our program.”
Pitner oversaw some of the student band rehearsals during the summer months, and also helped teach a week-long marching band camp from July 31 to Aug. 4. The high school also held a reception at the school July 12 so parents and community members could meet Pitner.
“One of the great things here is the support of the parents and the community,” he said. “I’ve gotten a warm welcome not only from the students but from the parents and community as well.”