John Haynie: Teacher, mentor and friend
by Marvin Stamm (’61)
The day after my arrival at North Texas, my friend Bob Ferguson took me to trumpet Professor John Haynie’s home for our first meeting. Walking in his back yard, John asked me what I wanted to do with my music, and I told him I wanted to be a jazz or studio musician.
John said, “No, Marvin, you’ll want to get a music education degree and teach.” But I said politely, “No, Mr. Haynie, I want to play.”
Though he disagreed with my aspirations, I persisted. John let the subject drop with words letting me know that if I was to pursue that path, I would have to prove myself to him in both the classical and jazz areas, but from that time forward, he was a strong advocate for my going forward with my decision.
John couldn’t have known that his challenge echoed that of my band directors and trumpet teacher in Memphis. He just continued this challenge, but now in a more intense environment among more experienced musicians — the right thing at the right time.
Much of my days at North Texas were spent in the practice rooms as well as playing in all the ensembles the school had to offer; John insisted on this. My ensemble experience there was extensive, and I played in the lab band, concert band, symphony orchestra and brass ensemble. But special among these years was my relationship and time spent with John. He could be a strong taskmaster, but one who provided us with the best musical training while inspiring us to realize our potential.
Through the years, John remained a strong factor in my musical life. Two unique instances from so many stand out in my mind regarding my relationship with him, both occurring after I had graduated. The first was when I returned to Denton after having been with the Kenton Orchestra for a year. I approached John about a problem I was having — cutting my lip from the difficult playing on that band.
John took the time to coach me through the initial stages of making some small changes in my embouchure and helped me to understand that this was the correct though difficult move to make at this critical time. This was a most arduous task for me, and John encouraged me through all the terrible frustration of going through this ordeal, probably the most difficult episode of my trumpet life.
The second instance was a much happier one. In 1969, John invited Gerard Schwartz and me to come to North Texas for a special trumpet symposium. We were to talk, hold master classes and perform. To my knowledge, this had never before been done at North Texas. I played the Latham Suite for Trumpet with the string orchestra and then performed with the lab band.
After the concert, John came backstage and said, “Marvin you’ve really done it!” With those words, he let me know I had fulfilled his expectations of me, and he was proud of the job we had both done.
I cannot say how much those few words meant to me. That performance was only the continuation of the process of seeking to be a better musician — a process that, for me, continues to this day — but it let me know that I had given something back to John for all that he had given me. There are some people whose contributions in your life can never be measured, and that is what I feel about John.
Excerpted with permission from trumpeter Marvin Stamm’s online newsletter, Cadenzas, fall 2000, www.marvinstamm.com/cadenzas.html.