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Plant High band takes to new director

The 26-year-old who filled John Sinibaldi's shoes is seen as energetic and organized.

By JONATHAN MILTON Times Staff Writer
Published October 5, 2007


Rob Schoos directs band members, who concentrate on their formation sans instruments. Schoos' goal? "A more college-style fun marching program."
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[Daniel Wallace | Times]
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[Daniel Wallace | Times]
Schoos attended Plant High in 1996 before moving to Blake High. He last taught at Rampello Downtown Partnership School.

PALMA CELA

Horns harmonized with a woodwind section during a Friday afternoon practice at Plant High School.

Each student carefully read through the warmup chorale as their director demanded more dynamics and control.

The command came from a fresh face on Plant's band roster:

Rob Schoos, a 26-year-old who was most recently the band director at Rampello Downtown Partnership School in Tampa.

After weeks of searching for a band director, Plant High School had finally handed the baton to someone new.

In August, ex-band director John Sinibaldi was put on leave after the School Board said he was under investigation.

Officials still won't give details, but said this week that Sinibaldi remained on the school system's payroll, performing administrative duties at a School Board office in Tampa.

Sinibaldi became the band director at Plant during the 2004-05 school year, and played a major role in the band's earning multiple gold medals and superior ratings in the district.

The investigation and Sinibaldi's departure surprised students and parents, who are picking up the pieces and moving on.

"The only thing I'm sad about is that he was just gone. We never really got to be like, 'He's leaving,' " said senior Emily Davis, who is drum major and has been a band member since her freshman year.

Still, students are finding a kindred connection to Schoos.

"He's easy to get along with and he's a really good band director that knows what he's doing," said sophomore saxophonist Will Davis. "He has a format for everything and everything is really organized. I like it a lot. It's really awesome."

Schoos, who grew up in Tampa, attended Plant in 1996 and then moved to Blake High School, from which he graduated in 1999.

Students aren't the only ones that have formed an instant bond with Schoos. Parents involved with the band's large booster club are excited about working with him, too.

"This gentleman is very energetic and is very focused on their the students' musicality," said band booster vice president Dona Linthicum. "I think the kids are very excited that we've moved on and that the guy they selected has a great reputation and is doing a super job."

During the hiring process, the county's district music supervisor, Ted Hope, volunteered to direct the students during summer band camp and their first performance at a home game.

Hope served as the band director until Schoos was hired in mid September.

"It's amazing to see what they have been able to accomplish in this short period of time," Linthicum said. "It's really been a delight to see the entire unit pull together so well."

The boosters have tried to keep students on task and inspired. Last month, they invited Busch Gardens' Mystic Sheiks of Morocco band to Plant, where the band performed as a surprise to students.

After Schoos was hired, the boosters met with him and he shared his ambitions to take the group to a higher level.

"John (Sinibaldi) was an incredible jazz musician. So his focus a lot of the time was jazz. The band didn't seem to function with the orchestra and chorus at all. I have already spoken with the orchestra director and the choral director and we are going to do a joint concert at the end of the year," Schoos said.

Schoos wants to enrich the students' musical knowledge by presenting opportunities where they can interact with members of local music groups like the Florida Orchestra.

His goal is to get the students to think of becoming a dynamic group, not just a marching band, that can play any style of music well.

"I want to see the band take on a more college-style fun marching program that is appealing to the crowd," he said. "Fun is the word for the year."

Jonathan Milton can be reached at milton@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3374.

[Last modified October 4, 2007, 07:49:13]


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