This has been a pretty hard post to write up.
Recently I learned that my high school band director, Mr. Turnbull, passed away on the last week of July. For those of you who didn't know him, here's a brief recap of the four years that we knew each other. Mr. Turnbull started teaching at Bishop Foley High School pretty much right out of college. He started the same year that I started at Foley, so we were both new around the same time. What he did with that music program, though, was absolutely inspiring. He breathed life into the program, and nurtured it into a serious musical program. He took the marching band and turned it into a competitive class C marching band (which is unheard of for a Catholic High School). He got the parents involved in helping with the program. When it came time to learn the basics like scales and such, he made sure that even the percussionists were required to understand music theory. Students who graduated came back to help with the program, and when it came time for me to graduate, I knew that I would come back and try to help as well. Unfortunately, Mr. Turnbull left the same year that I left the school, and his replacement didn't have the same desire to keep the program healthy and strong. When I went back, the 60+ piece marching band was down to 10 drummers, and a handful of other instruments. Where once there was welcoming, now there was admonishment, since I was no longer a student.
As the years went by, I kept thinking of Mr. Turnbull and the affect he had on me musically. He introduced me to jazz, and Herbie Hancock. I'm not sure I played Chameleon or Watermelon Man quite the way they should have been played during Jazz Band, but I did check out those and the other songs from Herbie's catalog. I checked out Duke Ellington, and many, many more. I still think back to the explanation he gave for "Birdland" when we played it, and though I'm not a fan of Chuck Mangione, I will still listen through a piece of his because Mr. Turnbull was a fan of his music.
I recently reconnected with Mr. Turnbull via Facebook. He looked quite different in his profile than when he was a Foley. At Foley, he was a big, jovial man. The pictures I saw were much thinner, but very much the same jovial smiles. I didn't realize what he was going through at the time, but I'm sure that no matter what he went through, it was still with a smile, and exuberance.
Thank you, Mr. Turnbull, for everything.