Ray Novack Unplugged

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

“Now is the time to learn an instrument! Music is my passion, and I love to share it with my students,” claims Ray Novack, who has been a musical instructor and band director for as long as Glen Urquhart, founded in 1977, has been a school. Prior to becoming the band director at GUS, Novack was the curriculum coordinator of the music department and the band director at Beverly High School for 35 years. And he’s still going strong!

When he left Beverly High School five years ago, Novack wasn’t ready to retire yet. He wanted to continue to practice and teach music at his own pace. Along with directing the GUS band, Novack offers private lessons for students in elementary school through college. He is also the band director at Endicott College. In addition, he manages and plays in his own band, Horizon & the Horns, which he formed in 1973. The band includes former students and Novack’s daughter Kelly, which for Novack is “truly, a dream come true.”

Many students, including former GUS Head of School Raymond Nance, who takes piano lessons from Novack, feel privileged to be learning from one of the best. Over his 40 year career, Novack has been lauded as an exemplary band director, much admired for his infectious positive energy. We asked Ray Novack to share “a few of his favorite things.”

Favorite part about leading the band at GUS: “I love the kids’ energy, their enthusiasm, and their willingness to learn. You see the smiles on their faces when they arrive, and they’re ready to go, ready to learn. I love that!”

Favorite musical performances at GUS: “Solstice celebration and May Day, when the band marches through the streets of Beverly while students deliver May Day baskets to neighbors.

I was a marching band director for 35 years and believe me, it’s not easy to march and play music at the same time. I’m amazed by GUS students being able to do this at such a young age.”

Favorite instrument: “The accordion, because it was the first instrument I learned to play, but the piano is a close second.” Novack plays eleven instruments. He learned to play five of them in high school and another six in college.

GUS band for beginners starts up in January, and Novack encourages any and all students to sign up and give it a try. The GUS band admits students in fifth through eighth grade and, potentially, fourth grade, if the student has had previous lessons. For more information, please contact Ray Novack at rnovack@gus.org and let the music play!

Whitney Buckley