It's been more than a week since his death and I am still not done celebrating Gary Faust's remarkable life of service to music and young musicians. I posted a version of this note in 2013 when the KLRU documentary first came out.
I'm going to make this personal: I'd invite you to check out this documentary on my hero and the inspiration for just about everything I've done in life since I first came to high school. Thank you Gary Faust for what you've done for all of us who've had the pleasure to know you. Tonight, I want to say thank you to Gary alongside just a few of the other astoundingly great band directors-former, current, partial, adjacent-out there and tagged here who have made an extraordinary impact on my life and the lives of 10's of 1,000's of others. You have all helped shape the musician and the human that I am, each in your own way.
You mentored me as a student, a student teacher, and you taught side by side with me, you clinic'd my band, and you gave sound advice. You taught me percussion lessons and music lessons and life lessons. You gave without thought for receiving anything in return.
Les Sellers, long before college, you were one of my best friends; we had our own private (and heavily music-focused) Algonquin Hotel at Mesquite BBQ. Kara DiSabella Wallace, you let me ride in the backseat with you and your boyfriend to TMEA as a poor college freshman. Brian K Burks, you took me to the grocery store so I could get something to eat and then go back to practicing. Kenneth Thompson you were the best college sophomore roommate ever. Mike Rogers , you taught me jazz. You taught me about life, faith, and meaning. you drove a Marimba to my house! Gary Faust, you drove all our percussion equipment to Austin just for Nathan, Matt, Kristine and I. Richard Floyd you conducted my all-region band and opened my ears.
Cait Schmidt you put up with me as a head director, and then you took over and surpassed me in every way. Brad Kent, you invited me to Midwest as an undergrad. You took notice of me for no good reason and nurtured me. You made sure I stayed on a musically nutritious diet, only selecting the best repertoire. You showed me, through yours and Laurie Culp Kent's example, how to have a family and make that work side-by-side with an abiding passion for music. Kenneth, Mark Schroeder, and Bryan May, you flew with me to Midwest as an undergrad, and year after year of college, we challenged each other to be the most excellent versions of ourselves we ever could be.
Chris Walls, you drove with me to Midwest as a grad student, you put up with staying in a hostel, and you put up with me in general. Mike Lipe, you hired me as a visual tech for your winds when all I had ever done is play in drum line! Justin Preece, you showed me your Shostakovich records during your lunch break and blew my young mind wide open to the larger world of music. Gary Faust, you let me risk failure, just to make sure I was prepared to be able to pick myself up and dust myself off. You hired me to teach your band camp. You drove me to the game in your car when my bus left me. John Apodaca, you accepted me as your student and you once let me mow your lawn for lessons when I couldn't otherwise pay. You made my 1/2 hour lesson into an hour and a half. Christy Muncey you're a musical and personal confidant and you've been there when I've needed one the most and Russell Ratterree, you were my big brother in more ways than I could ever count.
George Hopkins, you hired me as a judge when I had no idea what I was doing. At the Cadets, you, Neil Larrivee et al taught me how to do what it takes to win, but that music isn't about winning, it's about excellence and artistry. Gary Hill you gave an awe-inspiring conducting symposium to me and my young colleagues when I was a college freshman. You were an luminary to watch, both on and off the podium. Mike Brashear you treated your lowly student teacher almost like I was a peer, even though I'm not remotely close to your peer. You let me conduct your group when it was way above my pay grade to do so. 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 my message doesn't communicate a little bit about the power of band, this video about Gary says it all.
In a word: thanks.
Rest in Peace,