PITTSFIELD, Maine (WABI) - A Pittsfield Music Director has received national recognition.
Maine Central Institute's Dean Neal said, "I absolutely love what I do."
A class of more than 50 students is no match for the Head of the Music Department and Music Director Dean Neal.
He's been teaching at Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield for nearly 30 years.
Audrey McCannell, a senior, said, "He has always been a motivator for me. He's always there for me. He just pushes me to be a better person and a better percussionist."
Senior, Kendrah Willey, said, "He's going to give constructive criticism because he just tells you that was great, but try this and here we are making good music."
Good music, that's something he's had an ear for since he was young.
Neal added, "Even hearing my parents play music and they would have people come over to the house and my father would play guitar and my mother would sing."
Now, he's making an impact on his students- one note at a time.
"Mr. Neal was one of the first teachers that I've met. He was really quick to make me feel a part of the group. I'm really thankful for what he did for me when I came here," Willey said.
McCannell added, "He connects really well with the students no matter where they're from, who they are."
Neal explained, "I attempt to make my class as warm and inviting as possible so that they are free to take risks and urge them to move as far forward as possible."
The Online Magazine, School Band and Orchestra, recently named Neal Maine's Music Director Who Makes a Difference.
Neal said, "I think of the many educators that have made a difference in my life, and all of my colleagues that really do such fantastic work, and to be even counted among them is very very humbling."
Even with national recognition, he doesn't forget to credit the students.
Neal said, "The attitudes that they bring into the classrooms are absolutely profound and how they affect me, it's amazing."
If you're thinking of picking up a musical instrument, the first thing Neal says you should start with is finding a teacher.
"Once they have that, I think that teacher can open up a world of resources and opportunities for that student," Neal explained.