Schoener Custom Music is sad to reveal that SCM President/Composer/Arranger Brad Schoener passed away in March 2009 after a five year battle with metastatic leiomyosarcoma. A graduate of Temple University and 25-year educator in the Upper Darby School District, Schoener was known throughout the Philadelphia area as the “Upper Darby Music Man,” having encouraged and persuaded thousands of young students in the Upper Darby School District to understand the importance of music in their lives. While battling cancer, Schoener focused on his love of music and his Upper Darby students. Many youngsters had no instruments, but Schoener was able to receive over $20,000 in grants to purchase them and pursue his goal “that every child should have the opportunity to play an instrument.”
Brad Schoener had many awards and accomplishments as a public school music teacher and professional musician. In the spring of 2010, Schoener was posthumously inducted into the Pennsylvania Music Educators Hall of Fame. Schoener was awarded the 2008 Butler-Cooley “Excellence in Teaching” Award by the Turnaround Management Association -- recognizing teachers who have changed the lives of students and communities where they teach. Other awards include the nationally recognized 2007 “Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation Teacher of the Year Award,” presented to him at Carnegie Hall in New York City, honoring music teachers who best emulate the personal characteristics and dedication of “Mr. Holland,” portrayed by Richard Dreyfuss in the 1995 movie. Schoener was also honored by the PA Senate and the PA Recyclers Association in 2004 for composing “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle” to celebrate the students recycling efforts. Schoener was particularly proud of organizing a 1999 Mega Band of 800 players from the Upper Darby School District to perform in Veteran’s Stadium during a Philadelphia Phillies baseball game. This was the largest number of Upper Darby students to perform together at the stadium.
When not at school, Schoener was a composer and freelance musician who also created hundreds of arrangements and compositions for young bands, produced them on a professional CD, and began “Schoener Custom Music” which has published and distributed his compositions internationally since his diagnosis in 2004. While serving as a guest conductor and artist-in-residence for many public school concerts from 1992-2008, Schoener also managed to serve his church by forming an intergenerational band at his beloved Westminster Presbyterian Church – encouraging young and old to come together to glorify the Lord with music.
Although primarily a trumpet player, Mr. Schoener also free-lanced professionally on trombone, baritone saxophone, flute, harmonica, tuba, and even bagpipes. His performances as a freelance musician are countless, playing with bands such as the Soul Survivors, Midnight hour, The Exceptions, The Coup, and most recently, Masquerade. Schoener also performed annually on bagpipes in full Scottish regalia for the Philadelphia Distance Run.
Never one to stand still long, Schoener was a retired Scout Master for Boy Scout Troop 149 in West Chester where he led the boys on canoe trips, caving, skiing, 50-mile bike trips, and rock climbing – many times leaving for the trip on the day he received a chemotherapy treatment.
The Schoener Family is deeply saddened by the loss of our father and husband extraordinaire – but we are thrilled that his love of children and music has touched so many people! Keeping the Schoener music legacy alive – his daughter serves in the United States Marine Corps “Commandant’s Own” Drum & Bugle Corps and his son is pursuing music education and percussion performance at West Chester University. Now utilizing the JW Pepper “Print On Demand” feature, Brad’s widow and band director, Jennifer Weidman Schoener, is continuing to publish Brad’s compositions for young musicians and keep his spirit alive through his music. Jennifer is also the Chairperson for the Brad Schoener Music Fund – established by the Upper Darby Arts & Education Foundation to support the musical abilities and aspirations of instrumental music students in the Upper Darby School District through the funding of instruments, instruction, and experiences to interested and talented students who might not otherwise have the opportunities due to personal circumstances. Please go to www.udmusicmarathon.org for more information on Brad’s Fund and what it is doing for the young talented musicians of the Upper Darby School District.