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Ahhh, nice long drive today from Lawton, Oklahoma back into Texas.... Great! I think my colleagues get a little tired from all the Texas-love that all us Texas Natives express on these tours! :) Poor people, they'll just never know the feeling! We have had (and always have) a great reception in my home state. Friday night, the people of Commerce turned out in force (and skipped Friday night football, no less!) to hear the band at Ferguson Hall on the campus of Texas A&M University - Commerce. We had a fantastic crowd, and it was great to either see old friends, or to know they were in the audience.
Interestingly, as a child, my grandfather saw John Philip Sousa conduct his world famous Sousa Band in the same hall. Since Sousa served as the Marine Band's director from 1880-1892, that was a pretty special connection. Granddad had a funny story about talking to the tuba players in the band, and them showing the kids that they had made fake shirt sleeve cuffs that stuck out of the sleeves of their uniform coats. It kept them from being so hot on stage, and they told the kids they better not tell Mr. Sousa! In addition to my parents, cousin, and aunts and uncles, my good friend Nancy Jo Humfeld drove up for the concert. It was great to see my Humfeld family at the concert, I love them all so much.
We had a chance to bring a number of musicians out to the music building in the afternoon before the concert to teach some master classes for their students. It's great to see not only excellent playing and teaching going on, and a world class facility, but the PEOPLE are amazing. I have written in this blog before about the impression you get the moment you arrive at a place of higher learning. TAMU-Commerce has a faculty and student body full of quality people. I was truly impressed, once again. Of course, I'm sure that I'm a tad biased! Our trombone section played and talked to the students about our jobs in the Marine Band, and we then coached some excellent players through music they are currently preparing.