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Snapshot: Kurt Eckhardt



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Occupation: I am a retired school music teacher of 42 years. The last 19 years were at Newtown High School as Director of Bands. Presently, I am rekindling my career as a professional trombonist.

Family: I have two wonderful daughters, Brianna and Hannah. Hannah is in her first year of teaching English in Fall River, Mass., after earning her Masters Degree from Brown University. Brianna is finishing her Masters Degree in New York City, planning for a career in speech therapy. I also have eight siblings! Five sisters and three brothers.

How long have you lived in Newtown? I have lived in Newtown for 29 years.

What do you like to do in your free time? I like to read, practice my trombone, bicycle, do crosswords, listen to music, go on long walks, and watch sports on TV.

What is your favorite book? I do not have a favorite book, but I prefer to read non-fiction and biographies of interesting people. For example, Mahatma Gandhi, John Kennedy, Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King, etc.

What is your favorite travel destination? Although I have not traveled much in the past, I plan on exploring the United States and all of its natural beauty and diverse cultures. My dream is to do this on a bicycle, if I can clear up some shoulder problems.

What is the best part about Newtown? Having been a resident for 29 years and a teacher for 19 years in Newtown, I have always been appreciative of the strong community support of the arts.

Who or what has been the greatest influence in your life? Growing up in Wisconsin in the sixties, the Green Bay Packers and coach Vince Lombardi were a huge influence in the entire state. Coach Lombardi was the model of hard work and dedication. He was a great organizer and motivator. Since then, I have always been inspired by people who achieve excellence.

If you could spend the day with one person, who would you choose and why? Both my parents have passed, and I would love to spend another day with them.

Who is your favorite musical artist? I have many favorites and cannot pick just one, but in general, I am in awe and moved by the amazing artistry of the top jazz and symphony orchestra musicians.

What is the greatest piece of advice you have ever been given? My father frequently told us that whatever we did in life, we should always give 100% effort. He encouraged a strong work ethic. Also, this may sound corny but there is a line in one of the Rocky movies that is a good metaphor for life. “It ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward.”

What is something you cannot live without? Can I say coffee, or is that too shallow of an answer?

What is your proudest accomplishment? What stands out over the years is the Newtown High School Marching Band winning the national championship in 2017, our Wind Ensemble playing to a standing ovation at Carnegie Hall in 2019, and the Jazz Ensemble winning top honors at the Berklee Jazz Festival in 2019.

Kurt Eckhardt is The Newtown Bee's most recent Snapshot profile. —photo courtesy Kurt Eckhardt
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