“Results, no excuses”

I’ve had a good handful of  inspirational people in my life, but looking at the big picture (in my less than 30 years I know the picture isn’t that big, but still) I’ve had two greatly inspirational people carry me through my teens: my junior high school band director and my high school choir director.

These two men were amazing. I’m sure a lot of people have had these types in their lives–the dry humor, the total brutal honesty, the exceptionally high expectations without accepting any less. I am incredibly lucky to have had both of them; I don’t know that I would have made it through junior high and high school even halfway sane had it not been for them and their passion for music.

I just received word that my junior high band director passed away. This news came as a total surprise as I didn’t know he was even ill. Our interactions since my middle school years have been minimal, and he retired shortly after I moved on to college, but we have been friends on Facebook in recent years and have chatted online a few times thanks to that.

This was a man who barked out “RESULTS, NO EXCUSES” while gesturing wildly with his baton at the hand written poster of those words that had been displayed for 20+ years in the band room. This was the man who would bang his ragged baton so hard against his music stand that it would shatter into pieces and send shrapnel flying into the flutes and clarinets at best, and all the way to the brass section at worst.

And this was a man who welcomed anyone to eat their lunches with him in his office. Every day. For three years. This was a man who was so inspiring that he got middle school kids to wake up early for before-school band practice, stay at school late for after-school band practice, and give up a big chunk of their summer breaks for summer band. He didn’t just encourage the best in us, he expected it. And he was amazing.

“We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.” I happened across that quote in a completely unrelated place on Facebook yesterday, and it has stuck with me as so incredibly appropriate right now. He created a love of music, a desire to push past acceptable and to excellence, and I can only imagine the ripple effect of his passion beyond his students.

I am grateful for the time I got to spend studying and learning from him. I am grateful for all the memories. Thank you, Mr. J.


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