MY YEARS AS A JAZZ STUDIES PROFESSOR AT UNT, it has been my pleasure
and privilege to work with highly motivated students from practically
every state and probably 15 or 20 foreign countries. Now in my 25th
year at North Texas, I recall that I was once one of those students
and think about my experiences on "both sides of the fence."
I came to
campus in 1963 as a graduate student. I had been teaching instrumental
music at the elementary and secondary levels and started my graduate
work in music education. However, I had always been interested in
composition it's similar to improvisation, the creative process
in jazz. So, I changed my major to composition.
As a student
at North Texas, I felt like a hungry baby bird with my mouth wide
open waiting to be fed. I was truly hungry for more knowledge and
aspired to a higher standard of musicianship as a pianist. What
I found wherever I turned in the school of music were people ready
and willing to "feed" me. If you showed the faculty you
were serious about your desire to improve, they would respond with
everything they could possibly do for you.
on the dynamic and stimulating environment, and my fellow students
were willing to contribute to any kind of creative project I might
organize. So there was an ongoing series of jam sessions, rehearsals
and performances of compositions and many hours of listening to
and talking about music.
me to North Texas was the jazz program that I had heard about by
word of mouth from numerous musicians. Although I was studying composition,
I was fortunate to secure a position as a teaching assistant in
jazz. I directed a lab band and taught arranging and improvisation.
longtime director of the jazz program and the One O'Clock Lab Band,
fostered my growth as a jazz arranger/composer and pianist. He remains
a mentor who inspires me he's an outstanding performer, an
excellent director and, most of all, a man with a high degree of
integrity. My experience as one of his assistants greatly influenced
my later decision to specialize in jazz education.
When I left
North Texas in 1966, it was the last place I expected to come back
to in my professional career. I taught, wrote music and performed
in Kansas, California, Florida, New York and Arizona. When the opportunity
came for me to return to North Texas in 1977, I realized I could
make a contribution and liked the idea of working with the outstanding
students I knew were here. It provided the opportunity for me to
foster the growth of talented young musicians and, I hope, to be
a positive force in their lives as so many of my professors had
been in mine.
take credit for my students' success they have to earn it
themselves through hard work but my career at UNT has been
extremely gratifying and fulfilling. I will always be grateful for
having had the opportunity to study and teach here.