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Jackson Billings

“As we stepped on stage for our last performance we were all nervous but Mr. O still seemed as calm and as happy as ever. After we played the song to perfection he turned and bowed to the crowd and just looked at us with the biggest ear to ear grin I’ve ever seen. I’ll always remember that smile and him telling the band how proud he was of us.”

Former Student – George Stevens Academy – Class of 2017

Instrument: Trumpet

Describe how music has impacted your life.
Music has been apart of my life for as long as I can remember. My grandmother was an actress and a singer, my father was a musician and my siblings were musicians. Music has become apart of my daily life in a way that I struggle to go a day without it. My playing of music began in 4th grade and took me through middle school and with the help of Mr. O it took me through high school. Now it’s taken me from Maine to Indiana where I play in a collegiate jazz band.

Describe your connection to Mr. O
I first met Mr. O when my father, a former student of his, introduced me to him when my sister was about to start high school. I rarely saw him after that only at basketball games or at the music camps he held which I eagerly waited for. When I started high school I was about to put away my trumpet for good but after 1 month of working with Mr. O I knew I’d never put it away for good. I spend 4 years with Mr. O in his band, his jazz band, and in one of his combos. By the end of my senior year I knew I’d be moving and Mr. O would be one of the people I’d miss the most. But to this day, my love, my passion, my drive for music and my continued playing of my horn I owe to Mr. O.

Describe Mr. O in three words.
Passionate, loving, respected.

What is your most memorable story involving Mr. O?
My sophomore year of high school we were in the state jazz festival at South Portland High School. The jazz band was playing an extremely difficult song called Whiplash, and I was playing with some of the most gifted musicians I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. As we stepped on stage for our last performance we were all nervous but Mr. O still seemed as calm and as happy as ever. After we played the song to perfection he turned and bowed to the crowd and just looked at us with the biggest ear to ear grin I’ve ever seen. I’ll always remember that smile and him telling the band how proud he was of us.

If you could ask Mr. O any question, what would it be?
What drives you as a director to still come to work and give so much of yourself after so many years?

Favorite Mr. O quote or phrase:
“That’s the cats meow!”

 

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