Last updated: March 19. 2014 9:04PM - 1668 Views
By Mary Therese Biebel mbiebel@civitasmedia.com

A.J. Bonk got up and started to dance to the sound of DFX, a touring ensemble of musicians from Tiffin University in Ohio that visited Meyers High School.
A.J. Bonk got up and started to dance to the sound of DFX, a touring ensemble of musicians from Tiffin University in Ohio that visited Meyers High School.
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For more information about the music department at Tiffin University, visit www.tiffinmusic.com or call 419-448-3366.

After the concert, there would be time for questions.

If you wanted to learn about studying music at Tiffin University in Ohio, or earning a music scholarship award to that school even if you intended to major in, say, criminal justice or communications, there would be an opportunity.

But for the 45 minutes or so that DFX, a band made up of Tiffin students, performed soft rock, progressive rock and retro songs such as “Rosanna” and “Sweetest Taboo” last week at Meyers High School in Wilkes-Barre, it was simply time for the audience to have fun.

A.J. Bonk, 18, did his best to make sure of that.

“I’m a senior. It’s my last year. I want to go out with a bang,” he said, explaining why he stood up near his seat in the front of the auditorium and clapped with big, sweeping arm motions, then abandoned his seat to dance and coax other students to join him on a Tuesday morning. Soon more than half the students were on their feet and clapping; a few joined Bonk in front of the stage to dance the macarena.

The musicians on stage appreciated all the enthusiasm.

“We can’t count on always having an audience like this,” singer Anya Ross said, “so we have to feed off each other’s energy. But when we do have an audience like this, we get energy from them, too. It’s great.”

Basking in the applause of a successful concert is just one of the experiences Tiffin University’s music faculty wants students to have as they work toward a bachelor’s degree in professional music performance or study a music-industry concentration.

“We teach you how to go out on the road, how to work the sound,” Nathan Santos said, explaining that learning the practical and entrepreneurial aspects of the music industry is just as important.

Santos, a Wyoming Valley native who graduated from Wyoming Valley West High School and Wilkes University, directs DFX, one of several touring ensembles that spent their spring break on “recruitment tours” of various high schools.

But the Tiffin musicians are not necessarily urging students to major in music. After all, even in the DFX group there are students from several other fields and undeclared majors in addition to music majors.

“Ten percent of the entire student body of Tiffin University participates in music,” Santos said. “All who participate in music get a scholarship award. Even non-majors. We set up our stipend program to be similar to the athletic department.”

As a result, Santos said, “We tend to attract many people who have a great passion for music but don’t necessarily want to go into music as a career, and they are rewarded for their participation.”

Santos grew up with music, participating in marching band, concert band, jazz band, musicals and choruses as a student here. One of his last local performances was to play string bass in a 1995 production of “Melinda’s Masquerade,” a children’s ballet composed by his late father, Rosendo Santos, a long-time Wilkes University music professor who had been commissioned to create the piece by Barbara Woronko Anzalone.

During that perormance, Santos’ older brother, Erik, conducted, and his younger brother, Jason, played the guitar and percussion.

Tiffin University has another Wyoming Valley connection as well. Brad Rees, head of the music department, whom Santos describes as “the individual responsible for initiating and building the program at Tiffin,” has extended family in the Kingston area and comes back for annual family reunions.

As for his own recent return visit, Santos said, “This is a thrill for me to come back to my hometown.”

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