Monday, September 3, 2007

Tribute to My Teachers:
Ronald Ricketts

It is exactly 34 years ago today that I moved to Boston from Minnesota. It got me thinking about a lot of my past and how fortunate I was to have had the teachers I did, starting with my first four.

My first trombone teacher was actually a trumpet player, Edward Von Hoff. The second trombone teacher I had was Ronald Ricketts, former second trombonist with the Minnesota Orchestra. He was the first trombone player that I actually took lessons with. I was eleven-years-old at the time.

I'll never forget that very first lesson. I was playing on my Olds Ambassador, the very first trombone I ever played on. My mother rented it from a music store in St. Paul named Schimdt Music Co.

Anyway, Mr. Ricketts asked if I could hit a high B flat, and I did. In his very calm voice he said, "Wow, you can even hit a high B flat. That's good. Can I try your horn?" I said, "Sure!"

So, I gave him my horn and could not beleive what I heard! This beautiful sound was right then and there implanted in my mind. It was warm, resonant and open. That was my introduction to a beautiful, symphonic trombone tone.

I remember one week showing up with a squirt gun that I kept in my trombone case to water my slide (and occasionally for other things!) and Mr. Ricketts noticed it and said, "Hey, could you get me one of those? I could use it in rehearsal and squirt it at the conductor while hiding behind my music stand!" I could not believe what I heard my teacher say! :-)

Ron Ricketts was truly a great trombonist and teacher. He was a great euphonium player as well.

One day after I had already taken some lessons with Mr. Ricketts, I was writing in my little diary. At the time, I was really ticked with my sixth grade teacher and was not liking school very much. (I just wanted to play my horn and study other subjects I was interested in). So, I wrote this page (photo above) about my great trombone teacher in my diary. I was very determined, even at that age, to become a musician. I also was very fortunate to have had people that beleived in me and always supported my musical endeavors.


zenas said...

I think it's fascinating where life takes us. Your post made me think back to my first determination to become a musician. I was sitting in the front office of my middle school waiting for my mom to pick me up and my middle school band teacher, Mr Krohn, came and sat next to me. I then told him ever so confidently (almost too confidently...), "I've decided to become a musician." Since then, life has taken me on an exciting journey where I'm currently sitting in my apartment in Boston and writing on my current teachers blog!! :D

By the way, I am really enjoying your blog! It's such a great resource to your teachings and insights, easily accessible on the web!!

Julianne said...

Hi, my name is Julianne and I'm Ron Ricketts' granddaughter. Your post about him is so lovely. He's turning 80 this year and I was wondering if you'd like to contribute to a present I'm making for him. It's going to be 365 memories/favorite things about him gathered from his friends and family, so he can read one every day for a year. I think it would be wonderful to have something from you. If you'd like to help me, my email is julianne.queensen [at] gmail [dot] com. Thank you!

William Day said...

Did you know, as I just discovered - and this is what brought me to your tribute to Ronald Ricketts - that Ricketts recorded with Miles Davis? He plays baritone horn on all four selections on the 1957 Columbia release "Music for Brass" (re-released on CD as "The Birth of the Third Stream"). Perhaps Mitropoulos (who conducts on the album) recommended him for the gig. --BTW, I was also a student, briefly, of Mr. Ricketts during my freshman year at the U of Minn in 1973-74. Your fond tribute to him matches everything I remember about him.

Chuck said...

I took trombone lessons from Ronald Ricketts while a band member at Kennedy High School in Bloomington MN. I hope he is well. Is he still giving lessons?