Students mourn beloved music teacher

Darnell Rose was known for his gift of music even while fully blind

SALEM, Va. – Darnell Rose is known by the Pride of Salem Marching Band as the “life of the party,” according to Drum Major Sam Vest.

Rose passed away unexpectedly Saturday, leaving behind hundreds of students across the Roanoke Valley.

Rose played in the Glenvar High School band before working as a percussion instructor personally and at several schools.

Band Director John Wright says he’s remembered for his drive.

“The passion was always there, like he wanted to be the best at everything he was doing,” Wright said. “And that was instilled in the kids, the kids wanted to be the best at what they were doing as well.”

The thing that set Rose apart was not only his musical ability, but having that ability while fully blind.

“Being blind, people wouldn’t think that you’d be playing drums, or teaching drums nonetheless, and he did awesome with it,” Wright said.

Wright says Rose picked up sounds no one else noticed.

“I’d be like, ‘Man, you’re hearing things no one else hears,’ and he’d say ‘I just got the gift,’” Wright said.

He pushed his students to go above and beyond.

“They all have that drive from him,” Wright said. “That never quit attitude. Because here’s a man who lost his vision and is still doing this, you guys have no excuse.”

Vest says he couldn’t be ignored.

“He would always come in and he had this loud booming voice that would just command everyone’s respect,” Vest said.

“You’d hear him come in like, ‘Let’s go,’ and you were ready to go. Even if you weren’t ready to go, you were ready to go,” Wright said.

The band is now facing their indoor percussion season, with a show Rose came up with.

“We’ve now turned the season into a dedication for him, which we’re not ready to do at all,” Wright said. “They don’t teach you that in school how to address the kids with things like this.”

But the band plans to move forward, doing their best to preserve his legacy in their performances.

“There is no quit,” Wright said.

About the Author

Abbie Coleman officially joined the WSLS 10 News team in January 2023.

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