Want to Support KCMSD Success?

You probably don’t know the name Ron Martz, or understand his role in the formation of some of the Kansas City Metropolitan School District’s best and brightest youths. No, he’s not one of the bickering School Board members, nor one of the superintendents who have come and gone.

He’s just a band teacher.

But, in his role as the band teacher at Lincoln Prep, Ron Martz has brought discipline and practice and talent to life in children who are at that crucial age when they start either abandoning dreams of greatness or fitting them into their deepest self-images. Through music, he reaches into kids’ dreams and offers a score for their success. I don’t know how many professional musicians he has taught (though I’m sure there have been a few), but I know for a fact that he has taught kids whose self-confidence, bolstered by their demonstrated ability to master a musical instrument, has walked with them on college campuses from Harvard to Penn Valley, and helped them achieve far more than the newspapers and civic talk would allow them to dream.

Yes, I’m a little emotional on this topic, because I’ve seen him take groups of kids and transform them from unruly, surly mini-gangs into polished orchestras and bands.


Two years ago, two Lincoln students submitted their audition tapes to Carnegie Hall’s National Youth Wind Ensemble competition – and both were selected! The Carnegie Hall staff said they couldn’t recall a time when 2 high school students were selected from the same school in the same year. So last year, four more students submitted audition tapes (these are audio—it’s a “blind” audition) and were selected to be part of this National Youth Wind Ensemble this year. The artistic director of Carnegie Hall contacted Ron Martz, the director of Lincoln’s band program, and basically invited Martz to bring the entire Wind Ensemble to New York. High school bands and choirs from around the country travel to New York for this program each year, but they are overwhelmingly suburban schools. Most urban schools just can’t pull together the resources, even if they have the talent to be invited.


The budget for the trip – bus, hotels, fees, meals, insurance, all that stuff – is about $75,000, and they already have $30,000.

Are you setting up a Holiday Party for your office? How about arranging a few of these students to entertain, and making a contribution to the trip? Do you have a hard-to-shop-for relative? How about making a donation on his or her behalf? If you are fortunate enough to be in a position to donate all or a substantial portion of the $45,000, you could get the kids back into the practice room instead of out with their parents working the concession stands at the Sprint Center and Arrowhead or selling $1 donuts and candy bars. Here is a link to the web page that tells you how to make a donation.

Even if you don’t have a nickel to offer, though, come out to the Winter Concert on Wednesday, Dec. 17, at 7 p.m. at Lincoln College Prep High School, 2111 Woodland Avenue. Offer your applause and appreciation for some great young musicians and their outstanding leader.

They deserve it.

Leave a Reply