“Four years of jazz band, countless nights from the bleachers at basketball games and many laughs later, Mr. O has left an impression on me that will never leave. He’s one of those teachers that leads by example and inspires people by being kind rather than demanding.”
Former Student – George Stevens Academy – Class of 2012
Instrument: Alto Sax, Guitar
Describe how music has impacted your life.
I grew up hearing my dad play tenor sax and guitar and started singing along from a very young age. Once my sisters were old enough, they joined in on the music too, and we’ve been singing and playing music together since then. Listening to music is comforting to me, and writing/playing music is one of my favorite ways to emotionally process life. Jazz will forever be my favorite, and everywhere I’ve lived I’ve also sought out the jazz clubs. I believe being able to improvise through music helps you improvise through life, and I believe jazz in some sense has taught me this. I don&’t play as much jazz anymore and mostly just fiddle around on my guitar while writing songs, but I’m scheming to start a funk band soon.
Describe your connection to Mr. O
I came into the GSA jazz program from BHCS as an intimidated 8th grader who was thrilled to have been chosen with three of my best friends as one of the new jazz band members. Mr. O welcomed us and made us feel like part of the band, even if he also managed to embarrass most of us as he did it. Jazz band quickly became a very important part of my life that we scheduled trips to grandparents around and practiced late at night when necessary (thanks, Mom). Four years of jazz band, countless nights from the bleachers at basketball games and many laughs later, Mr. O has left an impression on me that will never leave. He’s one of those teachers that leads by example and inspires people by being kind rather than demanding. I enjoyed my time playing music at GSA, and constantly felt like I needed to step it up because he expected all of us to be preforming at a high caliber, while simultaneously never making me feel badly. I continued to see him around Blue Hill when visiting home after high school, and as I watched both of my younger sisters move through the jazz program and graduate. Whenever I run into him now, he still greets me with the same huge smile.
Describe Mr. O in three words.
Ridiculous, funny, inspirational
What is your most memorable story involving Mr. O?
Jazz band states was in a couple weeks and we still didn’t have our songs down. This didn’t scare me too much because I knew things always worked out even when this was the case. But Mr. O was in another state of mind and calm wasn’t something you felt as you stepped into the band room. One of our songs for that year was Every Little Thing she Does is Magic by the Police and we had run through the same part so many times we all felt like we might go crazy. Once Mr. O believed we would finally be able to play the whole thing from the top, he started counting us off. Knowing there were only minutes left of practice, he started in his haphazard way, and this time a little too quickly. He has a unique ability where he can integrate song titles into count-offs, but this time it backfired in all of his excitement to get through the song without issue. His arms went up way over his head, and then, EVERY LITTLE GIRL SHE DOES IS MAGIC! – which should have been our queue. But instead of music, there was just roaring laughter. No one could keep it together, including Mr. O whose face was bright red but smiling, and we were once again back where we started.
If you could ask Mr. O any question, what would it be?
Can you remind me of your morning routine? I think I might need to implement it.
Favorite Mr. O quote or phrase: