Denise Dauw, a 1997 graduate of Marquette High School, has turned a difficult loss into the foundation for a new, young adult fiction: If Music Be The Food Of Love. The story ties her experience of losing her grandmother to late-onset Alzheimer’s disease to music performance, family, romance and medicine.
"In the final stages of her illness, talking to my grandmother didn't draw a response," Dauw said in a Rockwood School District announcement. "However, when I sang to her, she opened her eyes, turned to me and tried to speak. It was a special moment because she gave the gift of music to my mother, who in turn gave it to me.”
While a Marquette student, Dauw was involved in numerous aspects of the fine arts program; from concert and chamber choirs to wind ensemble, marching band, musicals and more. Dauw recalls her favorite activity was serving as a drum major in the marching band.
“I began my teaching and leadership career at that point, and I'll never forget the first time I conducted the band,” said Dauw. “Musically, it's the best feeling in the world.”
Today, Dauw serves as band director at Wildwood Middle School and assistant band director at Eureka High School.
“Through the stellar teachers I had as a student and the experiences I gained, Rockwood provided me a superior base for music education. After graduating from Millikin University in 2001, my first priority was to get back to Rockwood so I could work with an excellent staff and reach new heights with my students,” she said.
Once Dauw’s novel is published later this year, she plans to give a portion of the proceeds to the Alzheimer's Association. From teaching to writing to serving as a captain for the Walk to End Alzheimer's 5K Run/Walk at Busch Stadium, Dauw wants to bring further awareness to the disease.
“Music can create powerful connections every day, and I’m hoping to inspire as I've been inspired in the process."