Edward Gerald Kerman, a longtime Howard County music educator and advocate of grass-roots community bands, died Monday of a brain tumor at his Ellicott City home. He was 58.
Born and raised in Washington, he graduated in 1963 from Northwood High School in Silver Spring. He earned a bachelor's degree in music in 1968 from what is now Frostburg State University and a master's in music in the mid-1970s from Catholic University in Washington.
After graduating from Frostburg, Mr. Kerman became the choral director and general music teacher at a school in St. Mary's County and then assistant band director at a school in Marion, N.C.
He returned to Maryland in the early 1970s as band director at Glen Burnie High School in Anne Arundel County, and his students performed for then-first lady Patricia Nixon at the dedication of a new park in the community.
Between 1974 and 1977, he was band director at Parkdale High School in Prince George's County, and led his students at an international competition in Bermuda.
During a beach outing, some of the students wanted to throw Mr. Kerman in the water, according to his brother, Fred Kerman of Oakton, Va. The teacher could not outrun the dozens of students chasing him, and was injured when they tackled him.
He conducted the band at the competition with a separated shoulder, and "they came back with honors," his brother said. "That's his dedication."
In the late 1970s, Mr. Kerman became director of bands at Howard's Hammond High School.
He was a founder of the Howard County Arts Council, his brother said, and became the first regular director of a grass-roots group, the Columbia Community Band.
"As a high school band director, I really feel the need for a community band," Mr. Kerman was quoted as saying in a 1979 Sun Magazine article about the band, which met Thursday evenings at Hammond High and consisted at the time of 45 Marylanders ranging from a retired military man to a 17-year-old high school student and her mother. "It really hurts me when students graduate, get jobs and their horns go into their cases and all the talent they have and the studying they've done is wasted."
Also in the late 1970s, he co-founded the University of Maryland, Baltimore County Jazz Ensemble and directed the university's wind ensemble.
Mr. Kerman subsequently held positions teaching string instruments and directing bands at Jeffers Hill, Talbott Springs and Manor Woods elementary schools. He included disabled children in his elementary school bands, altering instruments so they could play and giving them opportunities to perform in front of large groups, his brother said.
He retired from the Howard County school system in 2000, but not from teaching.
He first took a job for a year teaching at Furman L. Templeton Elementary School in Baltimore from 2000 to 2001.
At the inner-city school, he mentored and emotionally supported new teachers, his brother said. He also took pupils to hear the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall -- and to a Navy football game. "Most of the kids had never had those types of opportunities before," Fred Kerman said.
Between 2001 and late June, when he received a diagnosis of a brain tumor, Mr. Kerman worked as orchestra and choral director for a middle school in Fauquier County, Va., and as the band and orchestra director at Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax, Va.
"He looked for the potential in all of the children and young adults that he encountered," said his wife of 32 years, the former Margie Ruth Hicks, adding that he wanted them "to use their music to ... maximize their potential and realize their goals."
She said he would spend time with kids and their parents to plan musical experiences that would help them have opportunities for music later in their education.
"He touched many lives," Fred Kerman said, including some educators and musicians to whom Mr. Kerman taught their first instrument. Services were held yesterday in Fairfax.
In addition to his wife and brother, survivors include his son, Benjamin Kerman of Ellicott City; his mother, Sara Kerman of Rockville; and a sister, Beverly Perlman of Silver Spring.