Choosing Arts Champions: Doug Krejci Helps Schools Maximize Arts Resources

Doug Krejci (photos by Sachiko Goto)

Doug Krejci has an eye and ear for quality music and arts. The internationally award-winning media producer, lifelong percussionist, and theater designer has parlayed the skills he uses every day into a new line of giving back—as a judge and clinician to high school band, speech, and drama programs.

“With some encouragement by friends, I started adjudicating high school percussion in Iowa and then throughout the Midwest ten years ago,” Krejci says. “I liked the idea of giving back and enjoyed adjudicating music so much, I started judging theater productions and speech contests. Now I’ve been asked if would judge across the United States.”

Krejci, who has taught percussion for 35 years, is one of the Iowa High School Music Association’s longest-serving percussion adjudicators. He is also one of the only arts judges from Iowa helping schools across the country. His students have performed in national events, including at the Rose Bowl parade.

Once schools and other arts organizations learned of his skills, they requested him for theater, speech, and media production contests. “He knows music and how the percussion section should contribute to a quality performance,” says his colleague and fellow adjudicator Cliff St. Clair. “He also knows how to communicate with everyone to encourage their best efforts.”

Krejci grew up as a percussionist with Jefferson High School’s Band of Blue in Cedar Rapids. He attended Buena Vista University and received degrees in technical theater and mass communications. During college, he performed, taught, and adjudicated his first events, and he has continued to perform as a visiting percussionist with bands across Iowa. “I’m honored to step in with smaller bands as much as I am to play with the prestigious Karl King Band of Fort Dodge,” he says.

Students usually feel intimidated when being judged, but experienced adjudicators know that their job is to give performers positive takeaways and the confidence to grow. “We want to build their confidence with constructive comments—that’s what makes students improve their performances,” he said. “I don’t know how many times I’ve said to a nervous student, ‘No one wants you to succeed more than I do! Relax and show me what you have dreamed about doing for months in this moment!’”

Karoline Myers, Director of Education of Des Moines Performing Arts, has witnessed Krejci’s work for the Iowa High School Musical Theater Awards. “He has a strong lens for how the various elements and areas of a production contribute to the overall effectiveness of the storytelling,” Myers says. “His background in technical theater and production brings extra insights to schools and students.”

After a competition is over, instructors and students will contact Krejci for additional feedback. That has led to theater lighting design clinics, a radio-announcing workshop, percussion rehearsals, and one-on-one lessons.

“Beyond their teacher’s guidance, students often have no idea how they can further improve their performance,” Krejci says. “Teachers, instructors and coaches often reach out to me so their students grow.” He is always open to helping school districts make the most of their limited arts education resources.

“It’s great being able to put my background in theater, media production, and music to work,” Krejci said. “It’s something I really enjoy and find rewarding.”