Sunday, March 30, 2008

49/365: Hembruff

Before teaching he had been a professional jazz musician. That and his sense of humour made him cool. He had a really down-to-earth way of teaching that included tons of improvisation and playing a sizeable repertoire of music, at least for a high school band. In his class we were always ready to play sets of 10-15 songs. He had high standards but often his class would be the highlight of my day.

Some students had convinced him to quit smoking so he'd switched to gum instead, which gave him cavities. He half-jokingly blamed us every time he had to go for a dentist's appointment. He wore a coat with tails to concerts and it made him look really, really short.

Sometimes he'd play along with us on a black enameled alto sax, but often during concerts he'd go sit down in the audience while we were playing because we didn't need much direction. He felt that sometimes the presence of band teachers takes away from the audience's appreciation of students' talent and work.