July 5, 2016
To those who asked me over the years, – “how long are you going to stay in the Army Band” my answer was always – “until I find something I’d rather do”. That finally happened a short time ago and so it was time for me to move on. I’ve had a truly blessed career. I’m retiring as the Concert Band Percussion Group Leader – the goal I had set for myself nearly 30 years ago when I walked through the front door as the band’s newest percussionist. It wouldn’t have happened without a lot of help from many different people, first and foremost my family: Thank you to…
… my wife Kathy, who has been my rock, for all of her support through the years, for her incredible wisdom and sound advice, and for her nearly limitless patience and enduring love.
… my son Jeff, and daughter, Julia for making parenting easy. They are two of the best kids you could ever want. They enabled me to spend most of my problem-solving energies at work, instead of at home. I am so very proud of who they have become and all that they have accomplished.
… my parents, who suggested that I take drum lessons when I was 7 years old and made me stick with it when I wanted to quit. They paid for the private lessons and attended countless concerts over the years (must be in the hundreds!) and I am eternally indebted to them
… the command team - COL Holtan and Command Sergeant Major Dan Smith. Two individuals who care deeply – not just about the Band – but about the individual members who make up the Band and want each one to be as successful as possible. You don’t write personalized handwritten birthday cards unless you truly and deeply care.
… those who helped me get off to a good start in Pershing’s Own when I arrived in October of 1986. SGM Mike Johnston was the best mentor a new member of the Ceremonial Band percussion section could have. He made coming to work fun, but knew how to be serious when it was time to perform. He along with Robert White, and Myles Overton were a great section in which to start out and they showed me the ropes for the first quarter of my career.
… the members of the Concert Band percussion section who mentored me when I made the switch to Concert Band in 1994 – SGM Bill Messerschmidt, Bill Richards, Gary Swiderski, and Terry Heilman. We were a section of Pennsylvania boys – except for Gary. They taught me a lot about musicianship and being a section player. Watching them play was like a free private lesson every day. It was a great way to be introduced to the Concert Band.
… SGM Tim Huesgen who was my partner in the leadership of the Concert Band percussion section for 10 years. Even on the worst day when things were going wrong Tim would have that one off-the-cuff comment that would crack me up. We made a good team and had a lot of fun. On trips I could always count on him to have researched the best restaurants and attractions.
… the various Concert Band Element Leaders over the past several years. SGM Debbie McGarity, SGM Chuck Seipp, SGM Rick Parrell, SGM Don Palmire and now SGM Jerry Amoury. They were always happy to give advice and guidance when I asked, and even sometimes when I didn’t. They helped shape who I became as a leader and their impact on me was substantial.
… the EO Team – Primary EO Leader was not a position I sought, but I was blessed to have had the opportunity, and to work with and get to know such dedicated and caring people. You do great work. Thank you for your efforts to make TUSAB a better place
… the current Concert Band percussion section – I’ve enjoyed performing with you for the past 15 years. We’ve had some challenges, but have also done some great things and had some great times! As my replacement, Kris Keeton is a great addition and immediately makes the section better by his presence. I expect more great things.
… Jen Lissak and POFA, for their help with the retirement luncheon!
There are many things I will miss:
Finally, as with most retirees, I have to offer a bit of advice as I walk out the door. We are all extremely fortunate to be a part of this organization. Although there are things we’re required to do that we don’t really enjoy, for the most part we are making a living doing what we love. For musicians that is getting to be a very rare thing. Never take it for granted!
Thank you for a great career!- Jay