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Ron Keller - Director Emeritus


A Naperville Musical Legend to Become Director Emeritus

Dr. Ron Keller, long time director and member of the Naperville Municipal Band (NMB), has decided to transition to Director Emeritus of the NMB at the end the NMB’s 2023 summer season. In this new role, Ron will remain active with the NMB, guest conduct the band from time-to-time and assist the NMB Board and new directors in a variety of ways.  Ron’s dedication to music education and the Naperville Municipal Band leaves a lasting legacy to the City of Naperville, members of the community and the entire music profession.  Please join the NMB in Central Park on Thursday, August 10th at 7:30pm to celebrate Ron’s illustrious career with the NMB.

Ron’s connection with the Naperville Municipal Band spans several generations of family members. Ron’s great-grandfather, Joseph Bapst, was a bugler, played cornet and was the director of the Naperville Band in the 1870s and 1880s. Ron's mother and father also played in the Naperville Band for many years.  His mom played marimba, cornet, baritone and alto horn, while his dad played alto horn and occasionally cornet. Ron’s wife, Vicki, plays clarinet in the band today and his daughters Katie and Diana have both been members of the band in the past.

Born and raised in Naperville, Ron attended Naperville schools and began playing tuba in the school band in third grade. The tuba was certainly bigger than he was, but he shouldered it and marched around the gym while playing.  Despite its size, Ron had found the instrument that would fuel his musical career and legacy. Ron also plays cornet, French horn, trombone and clarinet; a true musician who has mastered many instruments.

Ron has participated with the Naperville Municipal Band for more than 70 years, first appearing as a soloist in 1951 and becoming a member of the NMB tuba section in junior high. Ron became director in 1966 following the untimely death of Elmer Koerner, the band’s long-time director and Ron’s mentor. Since becoming the NMB director, Ron has poured his energy into developing the NMB into one of the premiere adult music organizations in the country.  He transitioned the band to playing year-round, adding four indoor concerts each year to the 10 outdoor concerts the band plays during the summer.  Passionate about promoting a life-long love of music, Ron regularly invites young musicians to play with the NMB,  schedules joint NMB concerts with area high school bands and founded the Ron Keller Scholarship Award to financially support a young musician who aspires to become a music educator.


Under Ron’s direction, the NMB has received numerous awards and has been featured at several national music conventions.  In 1991, the NMB received the prestigious Sudler Silver Scroll Award, presented by the John Philip Sousa Foundation. This award recognizes excellence in community bands, and the NMB was only the fifth such band recognized at that time.  In 2008 the NMB played at the Midwest Band Clinic in Chicago and in 2015 the band was featured as one of the top community bands at the Texas Band Masters Association convention in San Antonio, TX.  The band has also played at the Great American Brass Band Festival in Danville, KY on two occasions.


In addition to his involvement with NMB, Ron taught music for more than four decades, beginning in Milledgeville, IL,  then Dwight, IL,  before returning to teach in Naperville, where he spent the majority of his teaching career.  Ron taught all levels of music instruction: grade school, junior high, high school, college and even church choirs. He was also coordinator of music for the Naperville School District 203 for 18 years, while carrying a full teaching assignment. He earned a B.S. in Music Education from Northern Illinois University, received a Master of Music Education degree from Vandercook College of Music in 1967, and a Doctor of Philosophy music degree from Summit University of Louisiana in 1999.


Ron is nationally recognized as an incredible music educator, musician and community band enthusiast. Ron has played with professional music organizations, such as the Carson and Barnes Circus in 1988 and the “All Stars” at the Midwest Band Clinic in 1968 under Merle Evans.  At Ron’s invitation, Merle Evans also appeared with the NMB in 1976 to conduct a circus concert as part of a bi-centennial celebration. Ron has been an active member of Windjammers Unlimited, an organization dedicated to the preservation of circus music, serving as President from 2007-2011. He has also belonged to the American School Band Directors Association, The Association of Concert Bands (life member and past President), Masonic Lodge, and Burlington Route Historical Society.   In addition, Ron was treasurer of the Sister Cities Commission.

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