This life builders series is expected to be an ongoing acknowledgement of the people who contributed to my life. I am splitting them into three categories: family, mentors and friends. Jawn is from that third category.
I met Jawn our freshman year at Andress High School in north east El Paso. That was when I knew very little about how to practice. My concept of practicing was about the same as some of my students today: to just try to get it right. Up until that time in my life, I had already spent a great many hours practicing my trumpet, but none of it followed any system or method. It was nothing more than spending time on the instrument. Although I made progress, it was nothing compared to the progress I would make later in life.
Jawn was the first person to teach me some of what I’ve been teaching to my students ever since. I remember times when Jawn came to our house and we practiced the the All-State music together. It was a generous offer on his part because we were friendly rivals in the trumpet section. When I look back at those times from that perspective, I see just how generous Jawn was. He didn’t have to show me how to practice. It was a mature and selfless deed on his part and I appreciate him for it more now than I did while we were in school together.
The rivalry was actually between three of us trumpeters from the class of ’82, (I will also write about Leslie Townsend in one of these Life Builders posts) which added an interesting dynamic to our four years in high school.
A Dear Friend
Maybe part of the reason why Jawn was so generous with his advice for practicing trumpet music was because we had become close friends. We hung out quite a bit over the years and still hang out whenever we have a chance. Jawn was someone I could talk to about serious trumpet stuff, which makes him exceptional because very few friends in my lifetime ever enjoyed talking shop outside of work hours. I guess, in that respect, Jawn was the first friend I ever had who had that in common with me. Our entire friendship was centered around our passion for music and that never seemed odd when we were just hanging out.
More recently, Jawn was someone who helped me stay sane during my divorce. Reconnecting with him during that difficult time helped keep me grounded and focused. He probably doesn’t know this, but the few conversations we had during that time helped me stay on track in many aspects of what I was dealing with.
Today Jawn is a busy musician and educator in El Paso, Texas. He is a dedicated father and a loyal husband. Jawn plays in the Juarez Symphony Orchestra, the Quintessential Brass Quintet and stays busy with freelance work.
I had the honor of performing with Jawn again for the first time in decades when Andress High School celebrated our 50th anniversary. Not only did we enjoy a little bit of music together, but we also had an opportunity to hang out again, which we hadn’t done in years. So it was good to reconnect with him again.