Principal's Pride Page

Keeping you Informed

Two Letters

Letter #1

These are excerpts taken from a letter music teacher Mr. Wight received in April:

This will confirm my gift of my King Bass Trombone to Red Jacket. My good wishes, and the hope that this will benefit some young musician, go along with today’s delivery.

I began taking trombone lessons at age 12 in 1955, while I was in seventh grade.

In 1956, my mother and step-father, Betty and Ed Northrup, who were people of very average means, both employed, sacrificed to purchase a brand new bass trombone for me.

I have had this trombone ever since, some sixty years.

My trombone took me to two all-county performances before my graduation in 1960. Later that year, I began attendance at State University of New York at Albany, then consisting of about 2,500 students at The Old Campus on Western Avenue. Before long, I had started a freshman pep band, which played at some of the sporting and freshman events.

In early 1961, I started a dance band called “The Campus Counts”. We were just kids, but we made music with all the joy and enthusiasm of the young. The Campus Counts played every college campus in the Albany area. We had a two-month performance at the once-famous “Rainbow Room” in Albany. Performing most Friday and Saturday nights, we made just enough money to offset some of our college expenses.

After entering law school in the fall of 1964, I played with the Campus Counts for a while, but studying the law took all of my energy, and I faded away from the band. After college, the times when I would play were few and far between: a few times in church with a trombone quartet led by former Red Jacket music director Dick Southard, and once with the Shortsville centennial marching band.

For about the last thirty years, my King trombone has just been in our attic, waiting to find a home. In many ways, I don’t want to part with it. But it seems a measure of respect to my mother and step-father that the King trombone they made possible through their sacrifice will find new life in the hands of a young musician.

Very truly yours,

John E. Tyo

Letter #2

Dear Mr. Tyo,

My name is Samuel Martina and I am the principal of Red Jacket high school. Mr. Wight shared with me the details of your tremendous donation of a King Bass Trombone. He was also kind enough to share with me the letter outlining the history of this amazingly well-kept instrument and how it had an impact on your life.

I know first-hand the importance of music. In 1962, when you were most likely playing with The Campus Counts, my father bought a used Buescher Aristocrat alto saxophone for $300. He paid for it with money he earned from his paper route. He played it all throughout high school. Though he didn’t use it much after that, he decided to hang onto it. Lucky for me, he did.

I played that same saxophone through all-county and all-state competitions and performances, through college -- all the way through my late twenties. In that time, I played in a lot of different bands in a lot of different places! I even brought a saxophone with me when I taught in Brazil so that I could jam with the local musicians. Most importantly, I met my wife at one of my shows. I’ve even been able to play saxophone on stage with the talented musicians at Red Jacket. Music has been, and continues to be, an important part of my life.

Mr. Tyo, by donating your trombone, you have given us one more opportunity to share the gift of music. I truly believe music is an essential element to life. Music is academic. Music is physical. Music is emotional. Music brings scope and breadth, value and meaning to life.

It is this gift you have given to us. I thank you -- and, by extension, I thank your mother and step-father as well -- for your dedication to the success of our children.