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Article posted: 10/14/2013 5:30 AM

Grammy semifinalist challenges, inspires through music

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Mark Duker, fine arts department chairman at Waubonsie Valley High School, is one of 25 semifinalists for the first Grammy Award for music educators. He conducts the school's most prestigious band, Wind Ensemble, and helps ensure other music and art teachers have what they need to best instruct their students.

Daniel White | Staff Photographer

Mark Duker, chairman of the fine arts department at Waubonsie Valley High School in Aurora, leads the Wind Ensemble in stretching and breathing exercises before rehearsal. Duker is one of 25 semifinalists for the first Grammy Award for music educators.

Daniel White | Staff Photographer

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Waubonsie Valley High School Fine Arts Department Chairman Mark Duker conducts the school's Wind Ensemble. Duker has been nominated by two former students for the first Grammy Award for music educators, and he's in the running as a semifinalist.

Daniel White | Staff Photographer

The Waubonsie Valley High School Wind Ensemble's flute players hold a sectional after a rehearsal led by Mark Duker, the school's fine arts department chairman, who is a semifinalist for the first Grammy award for music educators.

Daniel White | Staff Photographer

About this Article

Fueled by the magic of one momentous concert when he was 13, Mark Duker pursued the profession in his bloodline, following his grandfather, uncle and father to a music degree from the University of Illinois and into a job as a band director. His work for nearly 20 years in the field has led him to become a semifinalist for the first Grammy Award for music educators after being nominated by two former students. "I decided I owed it to them to at least try and go for it," Duker said.
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    • Mark Duker, fine arts department chairman at Waubonsie Valley High School, is one of 25 semifinalists for the first Grammy Award for music educators. He conducts the school’s most prestigious band, Wind Ensemble, and helps ensure other music and art teachers have what they need to best instruct their students.
    • Mark Duker, chairman of the fine arts department at Waubonsie Valley High School in Aurora, leads the Wind Ensemble in stretching and breathing exercises before rehearsal. Duker is one of 25 semifinalists for the first Grammy Award for music educators.
    • Waubonsie Valley High School Fine Arts Department Chairman Mark Duker conducts the school’s Wind Ensemble. Duker has been nominated by two former students for the first Grammy Award for music educators, and he’s in the running as a semifinalist.
    • The Waubonsie Valley High School Wind Ensemble’s flute players hold a sectional after a rehearsal led by Mark Duker, the school’s fine arts department chairman, who is a semifinalist for the first Grammy award for music educators.
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