Dan McLloyd Shultz
A Personal Musical Journey
I was the first child in the family and born with a severely depressed sternum (breastbone) which became more pronounced as I went through childhood. The doctor and my parents were so concerned that through those years I was examined every six months at what were called Crippled Children's Clinics (euphemisms were not in vogue then).
It was at one of these clinics that a doctor suggested it might be helpful if I learned to play a wind instrument, particularly during those early years. The next thing I knew I was standing beside my mother looking at wind instruments while the owner of the local music store talked about them. He started by showing me a cornet, then a flute, and a clarinet. The glitter of that cornet caught my eye, but by the time he finished telling us about the instruments, I was so confused that when he asked what I wanted to study, I blurted out, "the clarinet."
Imagine the disappointment of that ten-year-old when at the first lesson the teacher opened the case and handed him a silver metal clarinet. However, except for that fortunate turn of events, I might have ended up as a brass player, so maybe there was a blessing in this anyway!
My mother had become an Adventist when I was three, and I attended a one-room church school from 6th through 8th grades. I went to the local public junior high school for ninth grade, where I joined the band. At the end of the year I went to the director and told him that although I wanted to play in his senior high school band the next year, I would not be able to do so because I was a Seventh-day Adventist and could not march during the Friday evening football games.
He put his hand on my shoulder, looked me in the eye, and said, "Anybody who is willing to take that stance is somebody I want in my band. Just sit up in the bleachers during practice. Join us after Thanksgiving when the season ends." That fall as I was walking towards the football field, he came up behind me and said, "Dan, how would you like to learn to play the oboe? I will show you how to blow it and teach you a scale. You can practice while we rehearse outside this fall." I had no idea what an oboe was, but said "yes."
I fell in love with the sound of that instrument, practicing two hours a day. Many nights, my father, who was a 10:00-oclock-to bed person, would come to the bottom of the stairs and yell "That's enough, Danny. It's time to go to bed." That instrument and music became a major part of my identity, an important emotional outlet in those critical teenage years.
My mother was determined that her children would have a college education in one of the Adventist colleges and, following high school graduation, off I went to the nearest one. That year was a disaster. Although intending to be a history major, I ended up as an oboe major. The band director and oboe teacher, who had come to that college with the understanding that he could run a music store in the music building because he was paid $I less than full salary, early on tried to get me to study accordion, because he could pocket the lesson fee, promising that if I took accordion he would get me a job in any academy I wanted to go to.
Now while it was true I was from the hills of Pennsylvania, I wasn't that naive, so I declined. I rented my oboe from him directly, paying $5 a month. On a Sunday in April of that year I went to get it from a closet where it was kept, only to find it was missing. When I asked him where it was, he told me that since I was behind in the rent, it was not available until I paid him. I asked and then pled with him to let me use it at least until my lesson with him on Tuesday, since I would have to call home for the money and it would take some time to get it. He refused.
I returned to my dorm room angry, overcome by frustration. I remember going to the window looking out on the campus and slowly pounding my right fist on the nearby wall. I had no instrument . . . and I was stuck with a fast-talking music teacher who ran a band program far inferior to what I had known in high school, someone who was obviously more interested in himself than in his job or his students.
The disillusionment was total. I left at the end of the year, vowing never go to another Adventist school and never to be in music again. During that summer, a sister talked me into going to Atlantic Union College, an Adventist college in New England, where I registered that fall as a history major. But I missed my music too much. I joined the college band and was encouraged to play in a chamber group with a young instructor, Melvin West, and chair of the department, Ellsworth F. Judy.
Late that fall, after the group had played in a church on a Sunday morning and returned to the campus, Mel and Ellsworth turned to me after we had parked outside the music building and said simply, "Dan, you should be in music." I was flattered, but pointed out to them that the semester was about over and I would be behind in theory. Mel said, "I will tutor you". . . and he did. Looking back, it was the pivotal point in my life.
My goal when I graduated was to go out and somewhere in the Adventist system develop a band program equal to the best in any high school. My first job was at Forest Lake Academy in Florida. Many of my lessons there were grade school students. It was at one of these lessons with a young trumpet player that I had an experience that still haunts me. He was a shy boy of about ten and on this particular day not doing well at all.
Growing impatient over what appeared to be a lack of practice, I finally said, "Tommy, it sounds like you haven't practiced. You are wasting my time and your parents' money. There is no point to continuing our lesson today. Practice this next week and we will have a full lesson." He didn't say anything as he quietly put his horn away, got up and left. A moment or two later, I happened to glance out the window in time to see this little kid, trudging up the hill, bent over, weeping uncontrollably. I learned a valuable lesson that day about the fragile world our students live in and how easily they can be hurt.
Three years later I went to Adelphian Academy in Michigan, where there was a greater opportunity to create a quality music program. At the end of my first year, in late summer as I was completing some graduate study, the choir director suddenly resigned. I returned home, troubled by the fact that I might have to do choir, which would diminish what was developing in the band.
On Sunday evening, a week before school was to start, I fell asleep, having my usual conversation with God about this concern. I awoke the next morning to a voice saying, "Carl Ashlock." He was a musical person I had worked with at Forest Lake Academy where he had been the boys' dean and taught Bible. He had a gift for working with young people. Carl had been unfairly released two years earlier, because of politics, and had been working in the public school system as a counselor.
I immediately went to the principal and said I think I have someone who can do the choirs, and began to describe his qualities. Before I finished, he interrupted with the name, since they had looked at him earlier that summer as a possible dean of men. He liked the suggestion, immediately made a phone call, and by week's end, Carl and his family arrived on campus. For three years he would run an outstanding choral program at AA. And within a few more years he would eventually be one of the more successful deans of men at Andrews University.
We fell to talking several months after he arrived about how he had come to be there. He described how on the Sunday night before he got the phone call with its invitation to come, he had gone to an orange grove and had prayed all night that somehow he would be able to teach again in our system. As we compared notes we came to realize that his name had come to me the following morning, as that night was ending. I am still moved as I recall this evidence of the power of prayer.
The feeler to come to Walla Walla College came at the annual convention of National Association of Schools of Music department chairs in Colorado in November 1978. The representative from WWC, who was sharing a room with Carlyle Manous, then chair at Pacific Union College, had, with Carlyle, invited me up to their room to visit since we were all friends. WWC was looking for a music chair and as the talk turned to that subject, a description of what they were looking for in specialties and experience started to sound pretty familiar. It was a not-too-veiled inquiry as to my interest.
I was really enjoying my work at Union College as band director and chair, but said I would entertain the idea. Two weeks later I was invited to go there as chair of the music program. It would take me over six weeks to decide. Given what I had heard via the grapevine about turmoil in the WWC music program at that time, it seemed that a move there to serve as chair was tantamount to committing professional suicide. Yet, even though it represented the greatest professional risk of my career, I felt impressed to go.
The concern was unwarranted. The music faculty was committed to getting past the turmoil and, while there were problems, there was support from both students and faculty that made the resolving of those problems a group accomplishment. And, as I have discovered in so many instances in my life, decisions involving the greatest risk often, in the end, yield the greatest return.
Looking back . . .
The physical impairment of that firstborn that so troubled my parents led me to music, and a career that would never have happened otherwise.
Those troubling happenings in that first year of college, in the end, yielded insights and a sensitivity as I have subsequently worked with students
Even the happenstance choice of musical instruments seems in retrospect not to have been so, since the chance to work at Union College came about, in part, because I played a woodwind, more specifically, because I played the oboe.
As my career unfolded and my work at the college level began and continued, I never forgot the experiences of that lonely first year at college away from home and the disappointment and frustration of that freshman year . . .
And I have also not forgotten those two teachers who, in my sophomore year, took the time to encourage and help a student at a crossroads.
The events of my life, the connections and progression of events, and the eventual workings out of what seemed liabilities and disasters at the moment - all have led to a trust in the leading of God in my life.
A Bicentennial Bandwagon
Dan Shultz (2000)
Twenty-one years ago I left Union College, following eleven years of treasured experiences. The music students and faculty, the recitals, concerts, and numerous band trips over many miles, lunch times spent with fellow faculty and staff, the gestures of support and love on the part of so many - all are vivid memories now that make it difficult to single out that "most memorable event."
Even so, probably the most memorable experience for me was a series of bicentennial tours taken by the concert band from 1975 to 1977. During those three years we traveled 15,000 miles, performing 34 concerts in thirty states. Looking back, taking fifty-five young energetic musicians on the road for that length of time in that short a period was an audacious venture, truly living on the edge!
Some of the memories from those adventures on the road include two broken fingers and a broken nose (no, these were not the result of failing to meet the conductor's demands); a saltine cracker snarfing contest that almost put a trumpet player out of commission for the concert that night due to "well-seasoned" and swollen lips; and the "prune juice kid," a trombonist who thought he could care for his lunch-time nourishment, and save a little money besides, by quaffing a quart of that cleansing elixir. The result was a sudden and unplanned exit from the stage during the concert that night!
And there are other memories: profoundly stirring renditions of spirituals sung extemporaneously by over a 1000 students at Oakwood College as they waited for our concert to start; a bus driver whose generosity and heroic drives through the night kept us on schedule, and a multimedia American Panorama presentation with live music, recorded tapes and 140 slides, given many times with no equipment failures. In one concert, though, given on April Fool's Day, at a critical moment in the slides, a painting of a just-fired smoking cannon timed to coincide with a well-placed huge bass drum boom suddenly appeared upside down (that mystery is still unsolved).
Two weeks of afternoon and evening concerts followed by visiting with hosts into the night, break-of-dawn departures, sightseeing, and endless hours on the road led to a bone-numbing weariness as each tour came to an end. Silly original lyrics bemoaning the realities of "life on the road," sung to well-known tunes, helped ease the pain. The following, sung to I've Been Working on the Railroad, is a sample of the "brilliance," and throw-away quality of those efforts. This one floated into being near the end of a tour somewhere in Oregon as the bus, now headed East and back towards home, purred down the interstate:
We've been cruising down the highway,
all the live long day.
We've been cruising down the highway,
as we pass the miles away.
Can't you hear our cries for mercy,
rising so early in the morn.
Can't you see our lips are swollen,
as we blow our horns.
Danny, please be kind,
And you really don't want to hear the others. Some of my fondest memories of relationships with students happened on these trips. Even now, these tours are a special memory to me and, I suspect, to the students who shared the ride on that Bicentennial Bandwagon!