Thanks, Doc

tom streeter

Yesterday I had the pleasure to play in a trombone choir led by my great teacher, mentor, and, without hyperbole, the nicest guy you’ll ever meet, Dr. Tom Streeter, who is retiiring after 40 years at Illinois Wesleyan University.

This from

It’s a career that Streeter surveys with no regrets, despite the fact that “I tell everybody that my plan was to come here for three years, then go on to something bigger because you wouldn’t spend any more time than that at a school this size.”

A funny thing happened on the way to that life plan, though: “I realized the quality of the students here and the fact that I liked the general atmosphere of the community, and I’ve never regretted making the decision to stay,” says Streeter.

Doc, as pretty much everyone calls him, also started the jazz program at IWU, as well as shepherded the Birch Creek Music Center where I first met him as a high-school trombonist. Apparently the other IWU music faculty were less than excited about jazz:

“If anyone was caught playing jazz in a practice room in the School of Music, they would be asked to leave,” recalls Streeter.

And not just through the door to the practice room in the School of Music — but through the portals to the School of Music of Illinois Wesleyan University.

“No one ever told me the exact reason,” Streeter muses 40 years later, “so I can only speculate that, at the time (1971), there wasn’t a lot of respect for that style of music by the person heading the School of Music.”

It was so good to see Doc and all of my fellow trombonists and to send him off in true tromboney splendor.

Doc, thanks so much for everything you taught me, trombone and otherwise, even, perhaps especially, when I wasn’t ready to learn. I’m the man I am thanks in no small part to your guidance, confidence and good humor. Enjoy your retirement!