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Directors Circle

Jan 8, 2020

Being a music educator is an occupying job with regards to time and balance. Imagine having the job of being a prominent composer in addition to that! In this interview, I had the privilege to chat with Mike Kamuf on how he balances a busy schedule of being a working composer in addition to leading the band and orchestra program at John T. Baker Middle School in Damascus, MD. 


Topics include:

(03:24) Mike talks about his life and background as a composer/educator

(04:45)  Mike talks about how he began composing music

(09:03) Balancing a career as a composer and educator

(11:03) What educators should know about the composing/publishing business 

(21:58) How being an educator influences Mike’s approach to composing music

(25:25) Advice for composing your own music

(27:19) Quality in musical repertoire 

(30:34) Favorite rehearsal tactics

(32:34) Why do we teach music? 

(34:07) Mike discusses leaders that have made an impact on his life 

(38:18) Advice for music educators



Mike’s website:

Mike’s page on Alfred Music Publishing:

Videos of Mike performing with the Mike Kamuf Little Big Band:

Compositions/arrangements by Mike - 

Red Clay:

Watermelon Man:

Such Sweet Thunder:

L’improviste Vignette:





A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Mike Kamuf holds Bachelor of Music degrees in both Jazz Performance and Music Education from the Dana School of Music at Youngstown State University (Youngstown, OH) and a Master of Arts degree in Instrumental Conducting from George Mason University (Fairfax, VA). Mike’ s compositions and arrangements have been performed by numerous jazz artists and ensembles including the Woody Herman and Glenn Miller Orchestras, the USAF Airmen of Note, James Moody, Eddie Daniels, Sean Jones, Terell Stafford, Bill Watrous and Nick Brignola to name a few.
 Mike is an exclusive writer for the Belwin Division of Alfred Music Publishing with titles in the jazz, string orchestra and concert band catalogs. He also has compositions for jazz ensemble published by UNC Jazz Press, the Neil A. Kjos Music and the FJH Music Company. 
Mike has performed with the Woody Herman and Tommy Dorsey Orchestras and has recorded as a member of the Alan Baylock Jazz Orchestra. He served as assistant principal trumpet of the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra under Maestro David Effron. Currently, Mike leads his own jazz octet, the Mike Kamuf Little Big Band, comprised of outstanding musicians from the Baltimore and Washington DC areas. 
Mike has taught instrumental music for Montgomery County (Maryland) Public Schools (MCPS) since the fall of 1992. He has been in his current teaching position since 1995 as the Director of Bands and Orchestras and Music Department Chairperson at John T. Baker Middle School (Damascus, MD). Under his direction, the Baker ensembles consistently receive high ratings at music festivals and have commissioned four works for young concert bands. In 2007, Mike received the Superintendent’s Above and Beyond the Call of Duty (ABCD) Award for his efforts in involving students in the commissioning process and has directed the MCPS Senior Honors Jazz Band and Junior Honors Band. He has served as a jazz faculty member at Youngstown State University and Montgomery College (Rockville, MD). Mike has become an in demand arranger, clinician and adjudicator for schools, professional development conferences and music festivals across the country.