THE OWOSSO MUSICALE’S 2019 MUSICIAN of the Year award was presented to (inset) Michael Tolrud, band teacher/director at the Owosso Middle School, on Friday, May 24 during his Jazz Band class period.

   Tolrud is in his 28th year of teaching and has been at the Owosso Middle School for 21 years. Currently at OMS, there are five ensemble bands consisting of over 250 students, including a jazz ensemble that Tolrud began and has since integrated into the regular curriculum day. He is also the department chair for the district.

   Tolrud earned his bachelor’s degree from Northern State University in Aberdeen, SD, where he attended as a Berggren Scholar. His teaching has been influenced by many master teachers, including Mr. Lonn Sweet, Mr. Dennis Dafoe, Dr. Jamal Rossie, Dr. Matthew James and Dr. Alan LaFave. Following his studies at NSU, Tolrud taught for one year in Nebraska and then five years in North Dakota before coming to Owosso.

   His OMS bands regularly attend both Solo & Ensemble and Band & Orchestra festivals. The 8th-grade band has consecutively received a superior rating at the District Band & Orchestra Festival for all of his 21 years at OMS. He was selected to conduct the District 5 Junior High All-Star Band and has been a Michigan Schools Band Orchestra Association (MSBOA) adjudicator for both Solo & Ensemble and Marching Band festivals for the past 10 years.

   In addition to his teaching duties, Tolrud has held the MSBOA district positions of Vice President of Workers and Marching Band Chair for District V. He was also the MSBOA State Chair for the Music Education Committee for three years. He has hosted, or has assisted in hosting, multiple Band & Orchestra, Solo & Ensemble and Marching Band Festivals.

   Tolrud attributes his success in teaching to the outstanding and hard working students in the Owosso band program, an extremely supportive administration and to the past and current band directors, consisting of retired directors Monte Sheedlo, Thomas Newton and Carl Knipe, along with his current team of Jillian Kowalczyk and Jordan Sterk. He also believes success would not be possible without his main support system, consisting of his wife of 28 years, Carol, and their two daughters, Abigail and Elizabeth.

   Owosso Musicale has been a part of the Shiawassee Community for 82 years. The mission of the organization is to encourage and promote music involving all age groups. They have a long history of awarding thousands of dollars in scholarships to middle school, high school and college students, as well.

   Over the decades, Owosso Musicale has offered numerous musical experiences including musicals, concerts, home tours – and also focused on recognition in music education.

   Most meetings are held at the Christ Episcopal Church (Fayette Square) in Owosso. The public is welcome to attend and venues are handicap accessible. More information can be found at

(Courtesy Photo)

Michael Tolrud was last modified: June 4th, 2019 by Karen Elford