Through his 35-year career, Thomas Aungst has gotten in the trenches of the programs that he teaches. As assistant high school band director and districtwide percussion instructor at Dartmouth (Massachusetts) Public Schools, he has led the indoor percussion ensemble to five World Class championships at WGI Sport of the Arts. That’s why it came as no surprise—except to Aungst—that he received the Yamaha Legacy in Education Award in November 2019 at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Aungst and Marc Dicciani each received the award, recognizing Yamaha artists and music educators for their influences on the industry.
Aungst says that the prestigious award was particularly memorable since his former student, Paul Winterhalter, nominated him for the honor.
“Yamaha, this big corporation, there’s a lot of people involved — a lot of teachers, colleges, high schools — so for those guys to think of me, that’s a neat honor,” says Aungst, who has been a Yamaha artist since 2000.
While 24 of Aungst’s 35 years of teaching have been at Dartmouth, he’s also been heavily involved with The Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps, currently serving as the group’s program facilitator and battery arranger. Aungst has been inducted into The Cadets, Drum Corps International, WGI, and World Drum Corps Halls of Fame.
Aungst says he’s not afraid to “get in the trenches” while teaching. “As you get older, you might want to step back and not be in the trenches as much, but I still enjoy doing all of that and watching the kids prosper and develop,” he says.
Dicciani serves as dean of the College of Performing Arts as well as a professor of drumset and music business at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He has performed with numerous orchestras and artists including Allen Vizzutti, Frank Sinatra, Natalie Cole, and Boyz II Men, according to a news release. Dicciani has been a Yamaha artist since 2004.
In 2009, Halftime Magazine sat down with Tom Aungst. Read our conversation here.