The spring concert season is in full swing in Howard County high schools, and nowhere is it swinging more than at Wilde Lake and Glenelg high schools, home of two of the most respected, senior and successful band directors in the state.
At Wilde Lake, Lew Dutrow, his right heel tapping, his head nodding and bobbing to the beat, his left arm pumping time, is leading the Wilde Lake High School Jazz Ensemble in a rousing version of "Johnny's Theme," the theme song to the old Johnny Carson Show.
A visitor to the rehearsal, closing his eyes, might think he's listening to a re-run of the show on television. But Dutrow, hearing something troubling, stops his young musicians with a gesture.
"It's a little sloppy," Dutrow tells his young musicians. "All of us will play tighter and better together."
With another gesture, the music begins again. This time, Dutrow is pleased.
"Now we're starting to cook. It's starting to get lively!" he says as the band finishes up. "That's how it ends, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you!"
Three hours later and maybe a dozen miles away, Barry Enzman is leading the Glenelg High School Jazz Band on a similar musical journey. Like his Wilde Lake counterpart — and friend — Enzman is animated and exuberant, tapping his foot, snapping his fingers, pointing and waving his hands.
"Yeah, everybody came to play today, man," he says as the band finishes rehearsing one song and he launches them into another.
"One, two, and one, two, three, four," Enzman chants, and the bouncy strains of "One Mint Julep," a classic 1950s rhythm-and-blues song, fill the room. This version is a blend of saxophones, horns, drums and keyboard, including a series of short solos, and when it ends, Enzman smiles.
"Yeah!" he says approvingly. "Like riding a bike. Very good."
Lew Dutrow, 55, and Barry Enzman, 60, are more than just the two longest-tenured band leaders to serve at the same Howard County school: Dutrow for 33 years at Wilde Lake, Enzman for 39 at Glenelg. They are teachers whose dedication and talent have earned them statewide reputations and inspired numerous men and women to pursue music careers.
Both took over struggling programs and built them into musical powerhouses that consistently win local and regional competitions, and occasionally even perform overseas.
"Both men are extremely well respected for their ability to always provide students with high-quality musical experiences," said Rob White, instructional facilitator of music for the Howard County Public School System. "Both are looked to by their peers as leaders. Both are very knowledgeable and very willing to help out fellow directors."
"They're the elder statesmen," said Harlan Parker, coordinator of music education at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, who knows both men well. "They're great teachers — in the top one percent of teachers that I know.
"Howard County is very fortunate to have them."
Growing up in Frederick, Lew Dutrow played the trumpet in high school and in college. But he always knew he wanted to teach, and after he earned his degree in music education from the University of Maryland in College Park, he went to work in Howard County. He transferred to Wilde Lake his second year, and has been there ever since.
"Wilde Lake's been a really great place for me," Dutrow said. "Once I got going here and saw how the kids care, saw how much we could achieve together, I thought I'd stick around. … And now, 33 years later, here I still am."
At Wilde Lake, Dutrow leads a marching band, a concert band and a half dozen other ensembles and bands. "It's a lot of things we do here," he said.
Dutrow has seen many changes in his 33 years, but at least one constant has remained: "These kids still very much enjoy the whole musical experience," he said.