Walter L. Shaw

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West Side Music Department

Walter L. Shaw was born October 1, 1909 in Muncie, Indiana, the son of Walter F. Shaw and Dora Friddle. He graduated from Central High School in Muncie, Indiana. He then attended Ball State Teachers College, majoring in voice and French horn, and graduated in 1933. He was particularly strong in instrumental work playing the French horn. He had an excellent tenor voice and for three years was the soloist for the Grace Episcopal Church in Muncie. Mr. Shaw taught music for a year in a school in Raleigh, Rush County, Indiana before coming to Union City. He played in numerous dance and concert orchestras. His particular strength was the writing of arrangements for orchestra.

Walter Shaw came to the West Side High School in October 1936. He was 26 years old and came with his wife, Marjorie and young son, Philip. He had been hired by the school board to replace Howard Brumfiel. Mr. Brumfiel had resigned after four years with the school to take a position in Portales, New Mexico. His resignation came at the close of a drive for funds to purchase additional instruments for the high school band. The band program went on without interruption but the purchase of new instruments was deferred until the new director could express his views.

Mr. Shaw and his musically talented wife quickly became accepted in the community. He performed tenor solos accompanied by his wife on the the piano at several of the popular Cecilian Club concerts held in the West Side school auditorium. He also lent his tenor voice to his church and the church choir.

Under Mr. Shaw's directorship the music department at the school grew and expanded. By the mid 1940s fully two thirds of the high school student body were engaged in a musical activity of one form or other. Many were in multiple groups. In five successive years from 1938 to 1942, the band and orchestra were awarded first division in the district and state contests. In 1940, the band and orchestra were both awarded state sweepstakes awards. In that year the band also attended the National contests at Battle Creek, Michigan. Due to war time travel restrictions no contests were scheduled until they were resumed in 1946. Again the West Side school achieved a first place finish in all contests entered. All of the musical groups continued their winning ways right up to Mr. Shaw's resignation in 1948.

Maestro Walter L. Shaw was truly Union City's "Music Man." Building on the band nucleous begun by Howard Brumfeil he served the community for 12 years spreading music appreciation. His efforts touched scores of students instilling self-worth and pride of accomplishment. His dedication to teaching went well beyond that normally expected. A twelve hour day was the norm as he patiently taught each student how to play an instrument. He recruited students and taught them musical ability that they didn't know they possessed. He initiated a music appreciation program in the elementary grades, where the classes would go to the music room and Walter would play various records such as The Nutcracker Suite and narrate them. Through his efforts the entire community found a new sense of pride in their city.

He was a stern task master who taught many life's lessons to his students. He always strove for perfection in all of the band and orchestra performances. He taught posture - none of our backs were permitted to touch the back of our chairs during a performance. He taught discipline - his baton often would rap fingers of those not paying attention at rehersals. He taught pride - the priveledge of belonging to a winning organization. And most of all he taught the love of music introducing us to all of its forms from classical to modern.

After these twelve eventful years he left the West Side school to become Orchestra Director of Arsenal Tech School in Indianapolis, Indiana. He held that position for nine years, but during his 30 year career in the city's school system, he became a supervisor in the city's school music department and a consultant as well. He was Chairman or Co-Chairman of committees that organized the first Indiana All-State Symphony Orchestra, the first All-City High School Orchestra and the All-City Music Camp. He retired officially in 1978. He was a Mason and a Shriner and loved his time as the director of the Indianapolis Murat Shrine Chanters. They were a very popular large singing group that traveled extensively giving performances.

Walter Shaw died at the age of 90 on August 12, 2000 near Houston, Texas. He had gone to Texas to be near his oldest son, Phil and was in a nursing home at Splendora, Texas when he passed away. His body was returned to Indianapolis where he was buried in Washington Park East Cemetery.

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