Dan Wright, professional trumpet player, is celebrating his 10th anniversary with Tune Up Philly – Orchestral Pathways Program (TUP). We are glad to recognize and honor Dan for his dedication to his students in TUP and the way that he has served them as a mentor and instructor. 

Dan’s first role with Tune Up Philly was as a Teaching Artist, a position he continues through his work at St. James School and Mariana Bracetti Academy Charter School, two of TUP’s partner schools. As his role expanded, he became the leader of brass ensembles for all nine partner sites. This year, Dan took on the role of Site Supervisor to support TUP’s 15 Teaching Artists and to facilitate the administrative work of the program. Through all of this, he has become a mentor to many. 

Over the past decade, Dan has watched his students grow tremendously and he takes great pride in sharing their accomplishments. He said recently, “My whole mindset during teaching is focused on the growth of the student. I am aware that all students may not become professional musicians, but they are learning life skills through the discipline of music that can make a tremendous impact on all aspects of life.”

Two students, in particular, hold a special place for Dan. Liz Velez and Gio Alvelo both began trumpet in middle school at Marianna Bracetti Academy. He served as their mentor throughout middle and high school until their graduation last year. To watch their emotional and intellectual growth as he helped to develop their musical talent was particularly rewarding. He said, “Every time I came back in September, they were a little taller, a little wiser. I loved the challenge of teaching them music while preparing them for college and continuing their growth as leaders. They were always so cooperative and helpful. It’s been a new emotion for me to watch them graduate.”

Music has always been important to Dan. As a young person growing up in Bristol, PA, he enjoyed going to church with his parents and singing in the choir. In 4th grade, he learned to play the trumpet and joined the concert band. This led to many years of playing in school ensembles and an eventual acceptance to the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. Dan trained in both classical and jazz performance and is comfortable performing many genres of music. In recent years, he has toured with Seal, played with The Philly Pops and for the past two years has been a member of the orchestra at the Media Theater. 

Paul Smith, TUP Director, is very appreciative that Dan has worked with Tune Up Philly all these years. He said, “Dan came into Tune UP Philly as a response to the recession when great players could use their passion for music to spark joy in students. Since then, he has become a great mentor to many students – instructor, leading brass ensembles, and now this year he’s a Site Supervisor. The PYO Music Institute story is about enhancing the development and growth of our students, and Dan has played a key role in this for the past ten years.” 

PYO Music Institute recognizes Dan for his dedication to the students. In the past 10 years, 

TUP is an El Sistema program that uses music for social change. He’s seen students come around the bend and find music as home. At the St. James Project, students are writing narrative on variations on Agape concept — Adaptability Gratitude Awareness Patience Excellence. Dan finds their descriptions personally rewarding to see their emotional and intellectual growth along with their musical talent. He has seen some students start in 2nd grade and now participate in All-City Orchestra. Elizabeth (Liz) Velez and Giovanni (Gio) Alvelo are the first set of students he’s had the entire time of teaching – Gio from grades 5 to 12, Liz from grades 7 to 12.