Induction into the University of Northern Colorado School of Music Hall of Honor
If a man has any greatness in him, it comes to light, not in one flamboyant hour, but in the ledger of his daily work. --Beryl Markham
In the 100-year history of the University of Northern Colorado School of Music, certain individuals have achieved greatness as musicians, as educators, as humanitarians. They have done so not merely by talent, though all are talented; nor by force of intellect, though all are intelligent; nor yet by creativity, though all are supremely creative. It is through the lifelong and focused dedication and application of all these qualities, through the diligence and devotion that comes only as a result of a belief in goals and a willingness to dream, that greatness is achieved, that lives are changed, that legacies are built.
The University of Northern Colorado School of Music celebrates Edwin “Buddy” Baker as one of its greats, inducting him into the School of Music Hall of Honor on this day, April 26, 1998.
University of Northern Colorado, from ITA Journal, Vol. 26, No. 2, Spring 1998, P. 31
It is very hard to write something about someone who has made such a great contribution to the classical and jazz areas of music and music education. I don’t believe there are words that can express the positive impact Buddy has had on his students and/or the professional musicians with whom he has worked.
Buddy is one individual who has “made a difference” with his playing, teaching and words of wisdom. He is a teacher’s teacher and a musician’s musician. And there is only one!
University of Arizona, from ITA Journal, Spring 1998, p. 30
I first met Buddy at the ITW at Peabody in 1973 or 1974. The workshops then were nearly ALL about teaching (small master classes, and the faculty each gave about 8 or 10 classes to assorted groups) with the performances being reserved for evening concerts, or late afternoons. It was hard work for a faculty member, and most of them/us were not paid handsomely, as I recall.
Bud’s classes were always full, with many students returning twice or more, as I did. The classes were a model of organization and preparedness, AND he was completely approachable with student questions about almost anything.
I remember his beautiful playing on faculty recitals, and also on some jazz nights, clear, clever and up-to-date. Then I remember being struck (hard!) when I overheard him say to a class something like, “I’m a teacher, not a performer. My time and energy have been spent on polishing my teaching and problem solving.” Well, okay Bud, if you say so, but you are a terrific performer too.
Harvard University, from ITA Journal, Spring 1998, p. 34
I first met Buddy Baker at the 1972 National Trombone Workshop organized by Henry Romersa at Peabody College in Nashville, Tennessee. His name was known to me but outside of seeing him listed on the Oliver Nelson Big Band: Live in Berlin LP, I knew little about him.
Buddy, in his quiet friendly way, left an immense impression upon me. As a trombonist, he was one of the first players I heard who played improvised jazz as well the standard “classical literature.” I remember a master class where he played and discussed the Lars-Erik Larsson Concertino. He played it unaccompanied and stressed the musical elements of the piece more than technical advice. I was amazed at his memory of the exact dimensions, and specifics of every mouthpiece and horn ever made.
Buddy was also a stunt man. During an earlier International Trombone Workshop (then called National Trombone Workshop) held at Nashville, Tennessee’s Peabody College, he was walking down the marble staircase of the music building with workshop director Henry Romersa and several other faculty members. Suddenly, Buddy fell down several steps, landing face first on the hard floor...without movement. As Henry ran down to him and gently rolled him over, Buddy smiled up at him. “Gotcha!!!” Buddy always made everyone feel comfortable but also was able to bring some life, spirit and surprise to formal situations.
Professor of Horn, University of Northern Colorado
My association with Bud began during the summer of 1966. Throughout my undergraduate and graduate years as a student at UNC and later as I became a member of the faculty, Bud has always been willing to take time to give advice concerning my career and my professional aspirations.
One of Bud’s most valuable contributions in helping create a successful School of Music at UNC occurred as he and Dr. Jim Miller assembled a cohesive and effective brass and percussion Department.
To this day, the department has over 100 years of combined, dedicated service in five faculty members. I am proud to be associated with this group of individuals, as well as considered one of Bud’s colleagues.
If there be one single thing for which I will always be grateful, it is that Bud damn-well taught me to breathe!
New York, New York, from ITA Journal, Spring 1998, p. 32
I will start by saying that studying with Buddy was fantastic preparation for the “real world” of gigging, performing, etc. Buddy is among the smartest and most musical people I have ever come in contact with. Buddy possesses a lot of real-life gigging experience (Kenton, etc.), and was around plenty of great players, as well as the screw-ups, and has a realistic view of “what’s out there.” This combined with an incredible ability to communicate the essentials of playing our instrument—in a way which would really reach the individual student, made him the perfect teacher for me, and I know, for many others.
Another fantastic thing about studying with Buddy, and I’m not even sure if he knows how powerful this was for me at the time, was watching him play. Of course, he always sounded beautiful, but for me it was equally important to see what it looked like to play well. Buddy applies concepts of the Alexander technique and even fencing to the physical aspects of playing and performing. About six years ago I finally studied the Alexander technique, and wouldn’t you know it, he was right!
Professor of Trombone, Eastman School of Music, from ITA Journal, Spring 1998, p. 29
Buddy Baker has been one of the “lead dogs’ of the ITA since its inception and it’s only logical that President Clinton, who also loves “lead dogs,” gave the name “Buddy” to his new Labrador. Over the past 40 years there have been many students and colleagues of Buddy Baker in the trombone world who can relate to this reverence for the name of “Buddy” because of his genuine warm personality.
His infectious sense of humor is displayed by reading his columns, “Exit Sliding,” starting with the ITA Journal, Vol. 11, 1973-74. You also have to be there to observe him falling flat on his face on the floor without damaging any parts of his body. How on earth did he get away with wearing his gig bag on his shoulder for a 19th-century Western movie film? Horses came before gig bags! All humor aside, Buddy has maintained a tremendous concern for each individual in his/her quest for musical knowledge and technical development on the trombone and euphonium.
Buddy was one of 16 founding board members of the International Trombone Association when it was formed in 1972. Buddy gave much of his time and energies to help get the Association established and was extremely helpful in establishing an international status for the association. This was evidenced by the ITA’s involvement in the 1976 First International Brass Congress in Montreaux, Switzerland.
It was no easy feat to convince a young organization to travel across the “pond” (as the English call the ocean) for an international meeting of brass players. His continued involvement with the ITA since the early beginnings has been tremendous, particularly for his many contributions in “fine tuning” the ITA Constitution and Bylaws.
Exit Sliding, Buddy. We thank you for your wonderful contributions to ITA over the years and wish Buddy the best in his retirement years. (He’s probably now going to develop a new method book [articulate and thorough] on which fly to use, what color of line and the best feeding times for trout all over the world!)
Professor of Trumpet, University of Northern Colorado, from ITA Journal, Spring 1998,
Buddy Baker has been a friend and colleague for the past 26 years here at the University of Northern Colorado. I play trumpet, and have worked with Bud at my side in countless student juries, rehearsals and concerts with both the Greeley Philharmonic Orchestra and the Rocky Mountain Brass Quintet. We have played many faculty recitals together.
Bud is a great friend, mentor and influence in my professional and personal life. I have learned much from him in the short 26 years that I have known him. All of our time together has been positive and inspiring. I consider Buddy to be the greatest teacher and coach, and the best trombone player I have ever worked with or heard! He has always played with a beautiful sound that is always under control, musical, sensitive, and in tune!
Nashville, Tennessee, from ITA Journal, Spring 1998, p. 34
I found myself wanting to put my thoughts in a short, honest, and professional fashion because that is exactly the way Buddy Baker operated.
It mattered not whether it was the highest quality of performance on the trombone (in any style of music), or a very professional attitude, personal integrity, quality teaching, or involvement for the advancement of the trombone; there were few people in my years of association with ITW or ITA who did so many of these things so well.
US Army Band “Pershing’s Own,” Washington, District of Columbia
from ITA Journal, Spring 1998, p. 32
Nearly a quarter of a century ago, I chose UNC for my Masters degree for one reason only—Bud Baker. His reputation as a quality player/teacher was a first for the entire West. This has now changed with there being fine trombone teachers at many schools in the Midwest and West, but most are past students of the “master.” This is his legacy—bar none!
Bud also looked to the future with ideas such as removable leadpipes, letting your choice of instruments (equipment) do the work, or arranging fine piano and trombone works for wind accompaniment. Bud’s ability to read into the future what absolutely needed to be done was textbook creativity for his students.
So Bud, thanks for the creativity, your courage to change our future for the better through new ideas, and most of all for your inspirational example of perseverance.
President, University of Northern Colorado
First of all, I am very sorry that Bud is leaving. We have worked together for over 30 years, and my admiration and respect for him knows no bounds. He is the consummate professional, both as performer and teacher.
Through the years, not only were we colleagues in the UNC School of Music, but also worked together in the Greeley Philharmonic; I as conductor, Bud as principal trombonist. To hear that wonderful sound emanating from the back row, dead in tune, has been a constant source of joy and pleasure.
Another memory has to do with Bud, dressed in tux pants, football shoulder pads, jersey, and helmet pushing a broom and circling the UNC Band as it gave a concert in a high school gymnasium. The expression on conductor Wayman Walker’s face was a remarkable, and protracted, combination of pain, bewilderment and incredulity.
What a remarkable career this man has had! He is an artist of uncommon stature, a teacher of penetrating insight, and a person of extraordinary intelligence and wit. His dedication to the highest ideals of the profession is an example for us all.
Berklee College of Music, from ITA Journal, Spring 1998, p. 34
With retirement of Buddy Baker, the trombone world loses one of its major leaders. From its inception the ITA has been guided, enhanced, and enriched by Buddy’s good sense, musicality, inspired teaching ability, and agile business talents, perhaps a reflection on his prior occupation as a stunt man. Best wishes for a satisfying, peaceful retirement, Buddy.
University of Northern Colorado, from ITA Journal, Spring 1998, p. 35
It’s difficult in a few words to describe the effect of a teacher on students. This is especially true in the case of Buddy Baker. He will never know the far-reaching impact he has had on his students and their students. This influence will go on into the future long after we are gone. As the saying goes, “to teach is to touch a life forever.” Buddy has touched many, with many more to come.
Musically, Buddy’s teaching influenced me in two of the most important areas. His love for the pursuit of all kinds of music has inspired me to continue to pursue music. From jazz to classical, his knowledge and performing excellence was an inspiration to me during the years I studied with him. He continues to impress me each chance I have to hear him perform. Buddy also taught me to teach myself. I continue to improve as a player, I desire to get better, and have been shown ways to make this happen. These are fantastic gifts, and I know my students are benefiting from my experiences with this wonderful mentor.
I am a better trombonist and musician and have a successful career largely due to Buddy’s mentorship. Additionally, I can drift a wooly bugger as well as anyone. But more than all that, I am a better person.