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221 Fine Arts
Director of Bands and Orchestra
Mr. Bell completed his Bachelor degree in Music Education at Central Missouri State University (now UCM) and received his Masters degree in Music Education from the University of Illinois. Post-graduate work includes extensive hours toward the DMA in Conducting at The University of Iowa. His conducting mentors include Harry Begian, James Dixon, Paul Vermel, Russell Coleman, Myron Welch, and Glenn Block.
Ensembles under John’s direction received consistent superior ratings at regional and national music festivals, and have been invited to perform at state, national, and European conferences, including the Mid-West International Band and Orchestra Clinic. During his five years at Northwest, the Wind Symphony has achieved local, regional, and national recognition by professional organizations’ peer reviews. A recipient of the John Philip Sousa Legion of Honor, John also received recognition from students and parents on numerous occasions for inclusion in Who’s Who in America and from colleagues as the Park Hill School District Teacher of the Year. He is a recipient of the UCM Music Department’s Distinguished Alumni Award, the Missouri chapter of Phi Beta Mu Outstanding Band Director Award, and the MoASTA Outstanding Collegiate Educator Award.
John has served as one of the co-conductors of the NorthWinds Symphonic Band of Kansas City since its inception and served as Conductor and Music Director of the Medical Arts Symphony of Kansas City for two years. Active as an adjudicator and clinician throughout the Midwest, he has served as Band Vice President of the Missouri Music Educators Association, President and High School Band Vice President of MMEA Kansas City District #3, a State Large Group Music Festival Manager for MSHSAA, and as a member of the MSHSAA Music Advisory Committee. John was a staff member of the Missouri Ambassadors of Music Biennial European Tour from 1996 to 2014, conducting and performing in both the concert band and string orchestra. Memberships include MMEA, NMEA, NAfME, Phi Beta Mu, ASTA/MoASTA, CBDNA, NBA, MBA, Phi Delta Kappa, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, and he is an honorary member of Kappa Kappa Psi.
John’s wife, Valerie, is a Past-President of the Missouri division of the American String Teachers Association (MoASTA) and serves as a clinician and adjudicator throughout the Midwest. She retired from public school teaching after serving as Director of Orchestras at Park Hill South High School and Lakeview Middle School in the Park Hill School District. Both their son, Nick (conducting), and daughter, Alyssa (viola – an adjunct string instructor at Northwest) are active musicians in the Kansas City area.