Mr. Reed was a modest band teacher. A man concerned more with teaching children music than most anything else.
He passed away Tuesday at the age of 81. And I can say, without hesitation, that he changed my life.
I took band in sixth grade and decided on the clarinet. And let me say that I don't remember pitching a fit to get one, but I must have been fairly persistent because I received one. And for a poor family, that's saying something.
I'm quite sure I tapdanced all over my parents' nerves with what we will loosely call "practicing." I know I did my dad's. He still mentions it at every holiday. *smile* But I stuck with it and my series of honks that could call geese to my front porch eventually actually sounded like "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star."
Junior High was a different story. Let's say I literally loathed seventh and eighth grade. My body did things I really didn't like. I started wearing glasses. I gained weight. It was horrid.
And then there was band.
Band at the junior high was in the basement level. Great acoustics. But when I say you could've hid bodies down there, I'm not kidding. And I lost interest. Rapidly.
But when your parents fork out God knows how much money for a piece of plastic that you swear you will cherish forever, you're kind of screwed.
So screwed I was.
I've always loved music, but I hated pretty much everything else. Until Mr. Reed. He was a slight man. And even back twenty years ago, he had those lovely lines on his face that spoke of graceful age and dignity. And having no male of any sort in my life that was worth a damn, I have to say that Mr. Reed fascinated me. He was softspoken and intelligent. He could pick up any damn instrument and play it. He marvelled me.
That sums it up nicely. He marvelled me.
Now back in the day, we had two concerts. But the spring concert was the biggie. That's when the girls wore formals, and the boys wore suits and ties or the equivalent of such dress.
And Mr. Reed, God bless him, had us tackling Mozart. "The Marriage of Figaro" to be precise.
Now, being a fairly young band, the sight of sixteenth notes piled on top of each other intimidated a few. But not for long. Because we broke that song down until we knew every note in it. And the night of the concert?
We rocked their socks.
You better believe it.
I can't hear that song today without thinking of a band director who put his kids first and touched so many lives through his caring and dedication. He was inducted into the Oklahoma Band Directors Hall of Fame in 1979. But his real legacy lies in all the hearts of the students he taught over the decades.
God bless you, Mr. Reed.
9 months ago