Faculty Profile: Danny Galyen
Transplanted Virginian Makes Iowa Home
Danny Galyen is originally from Virginia, but UNI is fast becoming home to him. The assistant professor of music has been at UNI since 2007, where he is director of the Panther Marching Band and conductor of UNI's Symphonic Band. He also teaches courses in music education and conducting and oversees the UNI pep bands.
Galyen played in marching bands in high school and college. Although he majored in music as an undergraduate and played in ensembles, he wasn't sure he wanted to be a band director until he got his first job in that role. "That's when I knew I wanted to do something in ensembles and conducting," he said.
One of the aspects of ensembles he really enjoys is witnessing the teamwork it takes to play a large-scale composition. During the course of an academic year, students learn what their peers can do, become a close-knit team and really communicate with one another. This is especially true of Marching Band, which is made up of music majors and non-majors. "Marching Band may be the only opportunity students have to keep playing their instruments if they are not music majors," he explained.
This past year the UNI Marching Band grew to 225 students, an increase of about 75 from 2007, when Galyen came to UNI. He attributes most of the growth to word of mouth; students in the band have related their positive experience to other students. "We want students to keep playing their instruments after high school," he said.
Not surprisingly, when asked to identify the most gratifying part of his job, Galyen replied, "working with the students." UNI students "are very committed to building a strong program, and they're willing to make sacrifices to make the program good," he elaborated. For example, the Symphonic Band played two exceptionally difficult pieces this year, and he was very impressed by the way the students attacked their work. "Each year, the playing gets better and better," he noted.
The Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center is another advantage of being at UNI. "This is a huge recruiting tool," he said. "If you tell a high school student 'this is where you'll play all your concerts,' it's a pretty big deal." Galyen recently returned from a visit to another university, and the experience made him realize how lucky he is to work in a facility like the PAC.
Galyen's position also entails establishing relationships with high schools and their band directors. He goes out and works with area high schools, especially in the spring when they are getting ready for their concerts. UNI pep bands also go to the high schools, play with their band, watch their band show and support the band members. Galyen invites high school band members to come to UNI for football games.
With all of his other responsibilities, Galyen also managed to compose a new victory march for UNI, which was premiered in the fall of 2010. UNI has an alma mater song and a fight song, but not a victory march, he discovered after combing through old records, so he quickly remedied that lack.
"Working in the School of Music is a very positive thing," Galyen said. "Faculty are very supportive of one another, and the attitude of the students is really special." And evidently those feelings are reciprocated. Galyen was awarded the 2011 University Book and Supply Outstanding Teaching Award for the College of Humanities and Fine Arts.
He holds a B.A. degree from Virginia Tech, a master's in music education with a wind conducting emphasis from Syracuse University and a Ph.D. in music education with a wind conducting concentration from the University of Florida.