Erick Von Sas ‘10: Giving Back The Gift of Music
- The Spirit of a Squire
The Spirit of a Squire gives back to school and community in any way, and among the most beautiful gifts a Squire can give back to Delone Catholic High School is the gift of their time and talent.
Erick Von Sas ‘10 has dedicated his time and talent to the Marching Squires, the Delone Catholic High School Music Program, and his mentors Mr. and Mrs. Brian ‘79 and Lynn ‘84 Yealy since his high school graduation.
Von Sas’s love of music began as a student at St. Joseph’s Elementary School in Hanover, where Lynn was his elementary music teacher. He started on the baritone, then transitioned to playing the tuba when he became a student at Delone Catholic in 2006. “I found my people right away,” he remarked. “Because of the environment that Brian and Lynn create throughout the department, I took anything I could that was a graduation requirement so that I was always in the band room.”
After graduation, Von Sas continued his education at the University of Dayton in Ohio. As a recent graduate from the Delone Catholic music program, the Yealys asked if he would come back and share his talents as a staff member during summer band camp. From there, every summer while in college, he came back to work at camp as an instructor. “To have the faith to ask me as an 18-year-old to come back and work as a staff member is not super common. They had the trust in me to guide and help shape things,” he said.
By 2014, Von Sas had begun teaching his own band, and in 2017, he moved to teach in Maryland and currently is band director at Crofton High School in Anne Arundel County. In 2021, he earned his Master’s of Music in Music Education from The American Band College of Central Washington University in Washington State. As a new father and full-time music educator, Von Sas has his hands full but continues to work intermittently as a drill designer and visual consultant for the Delone Catholic Marching Band.
Now, Von Sas has the opportunity to shape the music program at Crofton High School, as the school recently opened in the fall of 2020 and is still establishing its music program. The COVID-19 pandemic presented lots of challenges as far as the restrictions on the music program, but despite the challenges, the program has grown significantly since its beginning. “When I first took the job, it was just band and orchestra, now I am able to teach band and a music technology course. We are marching 70 students this fall, and have about 130 students split between two concert bands.”
Von Sas attributes much of his success and the success of the program with which he works to the skills he learned while a student at Delone Catholic, and then a graduate staff member. “Brian and Lynn really had a big impact on not only the trajectory of me becoming a music educator but also on my style, and how I teach,” he said. He notes that being a part of a smaller, more intimate program at Delone Catholic made him understand the value of personal music instruction and individual contributions, especially as he moved on to his undergraduate studies. “Brian and Lynn always talk about how important it is for everyone to contribute. If someone isn’t contributing (in a smaller band) then it is noticeable. To take that frame of reference to a school with 400 students in the band program makes you realize how formative individual attention is.” He also says that maintaining high expectations and coming from a very systems-oriented perspective allowed him to grow in his career.
To students currently involved in the Music Program, Von Sas has one piece of advice: “Don’t stop playing. Find a way to keep making music.” He says to think of being part of the band as “one big group project.”
To Von Sas, giving back to the school that formed his vocation of music education is incredibly important. “Thinking of the motto of the school, ‘Be Doers of the Word,’ I get a lot of joy out of coming back because the quality of the students here is very high,” he said. He also notes that the collective years of everything the Yealys put into the music program at Delone Catholic is incredible. “Working with high schoolers, middle schoolers, and students in general can be demanding and challenging,” he said. “Four decades of impact is no small measure, and absolutely amazing.”