“During the awards ceremony, it was announced that I received the outstanding saxophone soloist award…I thought it was a joke. When they announced it again Mr. O jumped up and waved for me to get up on stage to get the award. I think he was even more excited than I was!”
Former Student – Fort Fairfield – Class of 1997
Instrument: Piano, Saxophone
Describe how music has impacted your life.
In my school days, being in the band was just for fun (and to get out of a study hall). Little did I know back then that I was developing skills I would be using throughout my life. Music is much more than learning how to read notes or play an instrument. It’s about patience, passion, discipline, creativity, expression, and so much more. While I stopped playing publicly many years ago, I still rely on music to inspire me, center me, and move me.
Describe your connection to Mr. O
Mr. O taught me how to play the alto saxophone when I was in 5th grade and was my band instructor until he relocated about three years later.
Describe Mr. O in three words.
Passionate, humble, unforgettable
What is your most memorable story involving Mr. O?
In the 8th grade, I joined the stage band and Mr. O was our conductor. At the state jazz competition, I was the lead soloist on one of our songs (Lionel Richie’s “Say You, Say Me”). It was a two-part performance…I opened the song, joined the band for several bars, and then finished the song with the rest of my solo. At the competition in front of an auditorium full of people, I completed the first part and went back to my seat with the band. But as I sat down, my chair slid off the riser and I got wedged between the saxophones on the first riser and trombones on the second riser. I fell over backwards and, as my feet came out from underneath me, I kicked the top off my music stand.
I can still remember Mr. O waving his baton with one hand (the show still had to go on, after all) while helping me get unstuck and gathering my sheets of music that were all over the floor with the other hand. He gave me a yank and got me up just in time to head back to the microphone to complete my solo. Later that night during the awards ceremony, it was announced that I received the outstanding saxophone soloist award. I heard my name being called but, all things considered, I thought it was a joke. When they announced it again Mr. O jumped up and waved for me to get up on stage to get the award. I think he was even more excited than I was!
I’ve told this story several times over the years to my students (I’m a college professor) as an inspirational message that even when things don’t quite go according to plan, to get back on your feet and just keep going. And every time I tell it, I think of my teacher, Mr. O, who taught us about music…and so much more.
If you could ask Mr. O any question, what would it be?
Is there any musical instrument that you would like to master, but haven’t yet?