Experienced conductors join Central Michigan University as grad assistants

Former high school band conductors Eric Strasshofer and Andrew Vinopal join School of Music

| Author: Hadlee Rinn | Media Contact:

Former high school band conductors Eric Strasshofer and Andrew Vinopal are joining CMU as conducting graduate assistants. Both conductors made large impacts at the school districts they taught at before deciding to pursue graduate school.  

Strasshofer was the director of band and choir at Madison School District in Adrian, MI after completing his undergraduate degree at Adrian College. While at Madison, the community support for the band program bloomed. Strasshofer says, “One of the most exciting things for me personally was to see the growth of the program over the seven years I was at Madison, the kids and I really put in the work on the ground to show [music] matters. Towards the end of my time there, sports teams like volleyball, track, and basketball, were begging the pep band to play at their events. [The band] is also getting new marching uniforms for the next season.” 

A man in a black collared shirt playing a tuba.

On attending CMU, Strasshofer is looking forward to a change of pace and experiencing a larger school environment with a larger music program. He is also enthusiastic about honing in on his conducting and musical skills to build toward his goal of becoming a college band director. 

Vinopal has been the band director for Renaissance High School in Detroit, MI for the past five years and has been the lead instrumental music teacher for the Detroit Public School District (DPS) for the past 2 years. One of the biggest undertakings for Vinopal was helping rebuild the music program after the loss of many citywide music programs. For example, Vinopal orchestrated the performance of the DPS All City Marching Band at the Thanksgiving Day parade and set up the district’s Instrumental Music Concert and Evening of Fine Arts at the Fox Theatre.  

A large band wearing black & white posing for a picture in front of a theatre.

According to Vinopal, one of the biggest deciding factors for his decision to attend CMU was versatility. Vinopal says, “I took a group of kids to the MSU College Fair for Music where the [students] can talk to different music programs from around the country and I ran into the head of CMU's music department. […] I learned more about how the program involves both band conducting and orchestral conducting for an overall instrumental conducting [experience]. After talking to Professor Chapman and Batcheller, I knew CMU would be a good fit for me.” 

As the conducting grad assistants, Strasshofer and Vinopal will be working with Batcheller and Chapman, assisting with all the university ensembles and conducting a few pieces during concerts.  

This story is brought to you by the  Office of Research and Graduate Studies.

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