Mr. Dan Leonard is a recognized expert in the field of music education. His work has received state, national, and international acclaim. He has taught and directed bands of all levels: elementary, junior high, high school and college. He played in the Charleston Symphony Orchestra 10th, 11th and 12th grades. Hundreds of Mr. Leonard's students are now accomplished professional musicians, band directors, teachers, and writers. His students have received Grammy Awards and many more have played in symphonies such as the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, the Greenville Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra, and the Wellesley Symphony. They have also played in the famed One O'Clock Lab Band of North Texas State as well as other big bands led by the likes of Woody Herman, Glenn Miller, and Stan Kenton. They have also performed with a wide range of artists such as Christopher Cross, Chet Atkins, Faith Hill, Phil Keaggy, John Scofield, Sandy Patty, Billy Ray Cyrus, Dolly Parton, Tony Orlando, and Michael Omartian.
From 1965 through 1983, his concert bands and jazz ensembles received superior ratings in state competitions and rated the highest in the state. He directed the Leonard Studio Band and Jazz Ensembles for twelve consecutive years. These two bands made 11 record albums, toured the southeastern United States, and performed professionally, receiving superior ratings in state competitions. Leonard Studio Jazz Ensemble performed for the South Carolina Band Masters Association in 1969 in Myrtle Beach, SC. In 1974, First Baptist Church School Band, under his direction, performed for the South Carolina Band Masters Association.
In 1979, his American Youth Jazz Ensemble toured and played in concerts in five countries in Europe. They recorded an album, and participated in the Montreaux International Jazz Festival in Montreaux, Switzerland. In 1979, as an outstanding music educator, Mr. Leonard was chosen to be permanent director of the American Youth Jazz Ensemble for its European Goodwill Concerts Tour. In 1981, he and the American Youth Woodwind Jazz Ensemble toured and played concerts in four countries recording an album in Montreaux. They also participated in the International Jazz Festival while there. In 1982, Mr. Leonard was chosen Festival Director and Chief Adjudicator for the International AYSBC Jazz Festival in Mexico City.
From August of 1984 to August of 1985, he traveled throughout Texas, Arizona and Oklahoma giving clinics on three sight-reading books that he has written. From 1985 to 1996, he taught in Dallas and Ft. Worth, supervising 28 schools. From those schools, the Leonard Music Institute of Texas, Inc was started. In December of 1996, he retired and moved back to Charleston, SC. At that time, he had over 1,000 students enrolled in band programs in Dallas/Ft. Worth area.
In September of 1997, after a very short retirement, he resumed teaching and re-opened the Leonard School of Music. Mr. Leonard is a member of the South Carolina Band Masters Association.
On a personal note, Mr. Leonard in April of 1959, set the all-time physical fitness test record for the United States Marine Corps, at Parris Island, SC, scoring 498 out of 500 points.
In 2000, after battling cancer for two years and facing death twice, Mr. Leonard rode his bicycle from Santa Monica, CA to Folly Beach, SC, approximately 3,000 miles across the United States for cancer awareness. That same year, he was presented the Humanitarian Award (Societe Francaise De Bienfaisance Medaille D'Honneur) from the French Society of Charleston, SC. In 2010, at the age of 70, Mr. Leonard completed another cross country ride on his bicycle from San Diego, CA to Folly Beach, SC for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, celebrating his 10th year of being clear of non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. In June of 2011, he was given the Key to the City of Folly Beach, SC. Be it resolved that R. Keith Summey, Mayor of North Charleston, SC, proclaimed May 23, 2015 as Mr. Dan Leonard Day. Dan was inducted into the Lowcountry Music Hall of Fame on October 25, 2015.
Mr. Leonard continues to teach classes and private lessons at the Leonard School of Music. He is also teaching at several schools in the Charleston area. He conducts sight reading clinics and also continues to write instructional methods for music students.