Mr. C.

Posted by on October 11, 2008 at 10:14 am.

Here is an article my mom sent me about my highschool band and jazz instructor, Mr. Christensen.  We all called him “Mr. C.” though.  He was finally given the Merced County Teacher of the Year award this past year.  He was by far among my top high school teachers, and definitely the one I got to know the best, having been in marching, concert, and jazz band for all four years of high school.

Mr. C. was totally an inspiration to me.  He worked us hard in the band room and on the streets and field as well–the first two years of high school we also did field show performances with him and that was probably the hardest I ever had to work in a band, both physically, mentally, and endurance-wise (due to his own time commitments we only did street marching the last couple years of high school, ’96-7, ’97-8).  We all took Mr. C. seriously because he was no joke, especially when it came to jazz.  He still practiced his trumpet every day, and was an accomplished professional jazz musician himself.  So when he told us that we needed to practice every day, we knew he wasn’t full of it.

Something I fondly remember is that Mr. C. made jazz mix tapes for us. Everybody had CD players then in the mid-’90’s, but CD burners didn’t exist yet, and so everybody still had tape players as well.  He made mix tapes of different jazz artists and we would sign up for different ones and check them out for a week and then pass them around to the others in the jazz band until we had exhausted his supply.

Most people know that I was a computer science major in my undergrad, but I actually started out as a music major for my first year of college, mainly under Mr. C.’s influence and inspiration.  I even skipped two semester of music theory because of passing an AP Music Theory test, which Mr. C. had clearly helped prepare me for by never ceasing to teach us scales and chord progressions in jazz band.  [I went through some weird stuff at the end of highschool and I became increasingly reserved, finally discovering that the ‘perform’ part of my music performance degree became nerve-racking and uninteresting, sadly, perhaps.  Hence the change to computer science.]

If I were still in San Diego, I would definitely go up to the Pasadena Rose Parade to see Mr. C.’s Cardinal Regime band play in it on New Year’s day (I hope my sister goes!).  My dad performed in the Rose Parade when he was in high school, so it would definitely be fun for all of us to go, if that were possible.

I’ve gone back to see Mr. C. a few times when my younger brother and sister have been in his band as well, and I’ve consistently been impressed with how he is both able to attract and refine talent in his bands to produce an amazing blend of sound.  Mr. C. clearly deserves his award, and I hope he teaches and continues to inspire for many years to come.