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It's all about chords

His face would turn red for a couple of reasons. He either was yelling at us for talking when we should be playing, or he was screeching on his trumpet. He was the envy of the trumpet section, and we wanted to be as great of a player as him. People knew him as our teacher, and a great band director, but I was lucky to get to know him as more than that. To me, he was a friend.

Looking around for a good role model is hard to do, especially in the ever turbulent twists and turns of middle school. It was hard to fit in, let alone find an adult figure to model myself after. I was (and still am) trying to start new social groups, and be different from our less mature counterparts. It was only natural to try and find somebody who didn't talk to you as a child, and had made it through unknown real life.

Mr. Gleason was new to the school, coming in on my first year in 6th grade as our band director. I had heard phenomenal things about the chorus director from my older brother, but this new band director was new territory to all of us. I was slightly nervous, as I wasn't very successful with trumpet before in Elementary school. The song of the year was called "The Tempest", by Robert W. Smith. It was the most difficult piece I had ever seen at the time. By the end of the winter concert, notes I could barely hit at the beginning of the year, I was sustaining for long periods of time.

He was always pushing us to be better. This not only showed in the classroom but outside of the classroom. We had a more elite group of playing called "Wind Ensemble", which met afterschool. It was for 7th and 8th graders only so as soon as I could try out, I did and got in with most of my friends. The music we got in Wind Ensemble was even harder than the year prior. Sure enough though, I could play my part by the time we had to perform.

It felt like with Mr. Gleason, loving and learning music was possible at the same time. I've seen people dread music, and just treat it with undeserved disrespect, but not Mr. Gleason. Music emanated from him and his teachings. You could feel his love for jazz come alive when he would play his trumpet for us, and brag about his band. It was so inspiring to see an adult still playing music, and making it applicable to the future.

When I would talk to him in and out of class, he was always easy going and cool. It was pretty nerdy, but we were both really into Star Trek and we talked about it incessantly. He was Next Generation, and I was undoubtedly The Original Series. He would play Mario Kart on the band bus to Virginia, and act like on of the kids. We talked about different older artists, and show each other music on a piano. He would play and sing these awesome songs mainly by Elton John, or the Beatles. It was just cool to see someone older who enjoyed the same music as much as I did.

He was always a friend to me, pushing me to do my best, and to be the best I could be. He showed me how amazing and influential music is with his inexhaustible enthusiasm. Whenever I feel down about music, or band class, or anything of that nature, I will sometimes think about how much music has shown Mr. Gleason the way, and how happy of a guy he was. Mr. Gleason was there for me even if he didn't know it. I will always appreciate the time I had as his student, and will continue to appreciate our friendship.




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