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Posted on: 1/1/2007

Earle W. Dickinson served as a music educator in the state of Iowa for over 33 years. In 1989 he received the Karl King Distinguished Service Award from the Iowa Bandmasters Association and in 1998 he led the "Band of Blue" from Thomas Jefferson High School of Cedar Rapids, Iowa in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California. In addition to these accolades, Earle Dickinson or, as he was known to his students, "Mr. D.", served as a mentor to hundreds of students that passed through his band program during his tenure as head band director at Jefferson High School. Mr. D. demanded respect from his students and expected his students to respect themselves. Although he was always stern and strict in his teaching, he cared for his students and expected nothing less than 100 percent from each of them because he knew that having pride in a job well done was worth more than being showered with compliments. I think I can speak on behalf of his former students when I say that one compliment from Mr. D. was worth a hundred from another teacher because when he said he was proud of you, you know he really meant it. He managed to control otherwise unruly students by instilling a sense of accountability and consequence for their actions. Mr. D. taught his students to work together as a team in order to achieve success.

My student/teacher relationship began with him when I was ten years old. After seeing my three older brothers succeed as brass players I decided that I, too, wanted to be a brass player. Upon Mr. D's advice and under his instruction, I began studying the French horn shortly after beginning the fifth grade. After one week, I was ready to turn it back in. I couldn't get a single correct note out of the hunk of metal not to mention the fact that is was quite awkward and heavy for my ten year old frame. But I returned for a second lesson and found out that a great deal of my troubles was due to the fact that my slides were all in backwards. After making the necessary corrections and under careful guidance, I excelled with the instrument and couldn't have imagined playing anything else. Even after switching to a new private instructor, I never went for an audition or competition without first getting Mr D's stamp of approval. I specifically remember one day in the fall of 1997 as I was preparing for Iowa All-State Auditions and was asked to play my scales. After quite a bit of struggling, I was dismissed for the weekend only after promising that I would spend one hour each day for the next three days practicing only my scales. I fulfilled my promise and ended up first chair for the festival. I have always kept the skills I learned during my time in band, which include perserverance, determination, and pride, with me through college, graduate school, and in my career. Even when interviewing for my current position with the Midwest Clinic, I contacted Mr. D. for his perceptions of the conference and how I may fit into the operation and I also listed him as a reference. And I am just one student. Each of us has a similar story to tell. We are all lucky to be able to say that we were students of Earle Dickinson.

Tribute submitted by:
Jennifer Young
Office Manager
The Midwest Clinic
Evanston, Illinois