Fuck. Snodgrass passed away this morning.
It was 2003. I was a junior at UTA, working towards a business degree in information systems, putting in 25-30 hours a week at UPS in Mesquite to pay for school, and spending a good amount of time in the music building for music performance and jazz theory just because I loved it. It was there, particularly my time with the group pictured here, that I enjoyed the most. A place I felt at home.
Bill Snodgrass is one of, if not the most important educators I have had the pleasure of being a student of in my life. I had a letter of gratitude lined up to write and mail to him and everything, but sadly I’m not going to get a chance to tell him how much he truly meant to me.
It’s rare to meet someone who has the amount of passion for anything that Snodgrass had for teaching. For gathering a group together to make music. To push limits. To demand you show up as your best. And to tell you to fucking do better when you were slacking.
I remember one day he had us pull up a chart that had sat unplayed in our books for weeks if not months. It called for mutes that we the trombone section didn’t have that day, and fuck if he didn’t scream at us for 10 minutes before telling us to get the fuck out of rehearsal, only to call us back in a minute later. Very reminiscent of the movie “Whiplash.” 😆
It was absolutely clear that he cared. The amount of love he had for what we were doing together and for each one of us individually was so, so great.
We recorded an album that year. I recently played parts of it for my daughter. She’s 10, has been practicing piano for a while now, and will be starting band herself next year. She’s never really seen me play, but I wanted to show her one tiny example of what’s possible with practice. Additionally, it brought back memories … of performing, of so much time spent in practice rooms, of the sheer joy that comes from creating music with others in the moment.
Thank you Bill, for being so kind, for believing in me, and for contributing to my growth in more ways than you could have possibly known. I truly wish I was able to spend more time with you.