I wrote a sort of open letter to many of my former directors and teachers coming from the band world, which I've reprinted in modified form below:

Wind instrumentalists, percussionists, doctors and lawyers, former students alike: call your director, call them now and thank them for all they've done. They deserve it. This documentary from KLRU illustrates the man who was the inspiration for just about everything I've done in life since the first time I did a drag turn 8 on the 35, side 1, 18 off the back hash. Thank you Gary Faust, for what you've done for all of us who've had the pleasure to know you. To all: please refer to my post last week for lengthier remarks on Gary's remarkable impact on me as my high school band director.

Tonight, however, I want to say thank you to Gary along with all of the other astounding and amazing band directors-former, current, and future who have made an extraordinary impact on my life and the lives of tens of thousands of others. You have all helped shape the musician and the human that I am, each in your own way. There's an Easter egg in here for just about everyone tagged, but the idea is more universal.

You conducted my all-region band, you mentored me as a student teacher, you taught side by side with me, you clinic'd my band, and you gave sound advice. 
You taught me percussion lessons and life lessons. 
You let me ride in the backseat with you and your boyfriend to the music convention for free. 
You took me to the grocery store so I could get something to eat and then go back to practicing. 
You were the best roommate ever.

You accepted my form a day late, you listened patiently to my sob story, and you bought me dinner. You nurtured my curiosity about music and encouraged me to let my only limit be my imagination. You drove a marimba to my house, you drove all my equipment to Austin just for me. 
You put up with me as a head director. You invited me to Midwest as an undergrad. 
You flew with me to Midwest as an undergrad. 
You drove with me to Midwest as a grad student! 

You hired me when I had no experience.
You made my half hour coaching session into an hour and a half. 
You showed me your Shostakovich records during your lunch break. 

You let me risk failure, just to make sure I was prepared to be able to pick myself up and dust myself off. 

You taught me phrasing and you taught me compassion

You hired me to teach your band camp.
You took notice of me for no good reason and nurtured me all the same.
You taught me jazz.
You taught me about life, faith, and meaning.

You accepted me as your student.
You made sure I stayed on a musically nutritious diet, only selecting the best repertoire.
You showed me how to have a family and make that work side-by-side with a love for music.
You drove me to the game in your car when my bus left me.
You let me mow your lawn for lessons.
You taught me how to do what it takes to win, but that it isn't about winning, it's about excellence.

You gave an awe-inspiring symposium. 
You were an luminary to watch, both on and off the podium. 
You treated me like a peer even though I'm not. 
You let me conduct your group when it was way above my pay grade to do so. 
You hired me as a judge when I had no idea what I was doing. 

Mitchell Curry, you payed in cash for my freshman band trip! 

I could keep this up for hours, but I think you get the message. 

You are some of the most wonderful musicians and humans I have had the pleasure to know and I am just a representative for all of us whom you have touched as teacher, student, mentor, colleague, and friend. You are remarkable musicians and people, all of you, and I owe every bit of whatever small bit of success I've had to you. And if this message doesn't communicate the power of band, this video says it all.

In a word: thanks.




Watch the video.

Jordan Randall Smith is the Music Director of Symphony Number One.