Giving Back To Young Musicians




Clarke's Corner Concert

  The ACUS’D

When my wife and I moved up into the Sierras, we chose a great spot in the Upper Mokolumne Watershed in Calaveras County, near the Amador County line. The nearest large town is Jackson, CA. A local newspaper somehow picked up our move into the area and ran a short blurb, which was read by a local family with two trumpet players in one of Jackson’s high schools, who needed lessons. I started teaching them and learned that there was not a jazz band in their school district.

  I got ahold of their music teacher, Chris Tootle, who is also a trumpet player, and asked if I could be of some assistance with his brass players. He asked if I would mind holding a mini-clinic with them and I did that the same day. The results were amazing and their enthusiasm was fantastic. I asked why there was no jazz program there and he said they last had a jazz band over 25 years ago, but there was just no interest in continuing the band after that. I found this unacceptable and offered to help get one started again. Chris said he’d be happy to try, and introduced me to both of the high school bands in town. I told them I was looking for musicians who wanted to play in a “fun” band and within a week, we had auditions, as well as a full band.

  Chris introduced me to Hank King, the music teacher there for many years who had recently retired, and we asked him if he would consider returning for this one purpose. He jumped at the chance, and the rest is history. The band is in its second year now and is a credited class at 7AM, five days a week. For the first year, there were no credits, just dedicated student and the 3 of us adults, all donating our time and energy to this effort. Some of the best time I’ve ever spent in a classroom. We are called the ACUS’D because all of the players are from Amador County Unified School District, ranging from 7th to 12th grades. I am very proud of what I helped start, and the new “legacy” is in place and growing, thanks to dedicated students, parents, boosters, and two fine educators. All For The Students! – Mic Gillette



Filed under ALLEGORY (MUSIC), Uncategorized

12 responses to “Giving Back To Young Musicians

  1. Chris Tootle

    Dear Mic & Julia,

    Thank You just doesn’t go far enough to express the gratitude I have for you both. Mic, your selflessness is inspiring. Julia, thank you for giving up your husband every morning.

    Founding ACUS’D is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I and the students will cherish forever.

    All for the Students!
    Chris Tootle

  2. Mic…
    I had the priviledge of seeing your good work in action, at the concert your band had with your students last spring at the casino. Your guidance shows in each of your students accomplishements, and even with all your success as a talented musician, it has to be your crowning glory to see “your kids” thrive in becoming our future musicians. Kudos Mic…!!!

  3. Mary


    You are the best – and the kids were proof of all your heart and soul that you give to others………
    Those kids were so proud of their accomplishment.
    And you could tell they sure love you…………The Pied Piper of Amador County…………..Have Trumpet will travel…………..On behalf of all you have helped – we Love You and Thank You…..M&T

  4. Carl

    Just let me know if you need charts. I was co-director of a youth band that made it to the Monterey Jazz Festival for 2 years, and my personal library has almost 300 charts in it, of which maybe half would work for kids that age.

    • Mic

      Thanx Carl, I can appreciate that. We’ve got a pretty good older library at the school and I’ve been donating some charts as well. A good resource is always appreciated. Seeya soon

      • Carl

        We’re not just teaching the next generation about music – we’re cultivating replacements.

        Some of my former students are now at UCLA and USC and other schools, working with some of the greats, and I’ve already told them I expect calls for gigs when they get rich and famous. 🙂

  5. Darrell

    Classic way to “pay it back”. Great job!

  6. Loretta

    Mic, love that you are able to pay it forward. Saw you a few time in San Francisco. Chris Tootle is part of our family now as our granddaughter is an 8th grade student of his. He also gives her private lessons. She loves her trumpet, she also has the pleasure of hanging out every thurday with Hank King ( The Motherlode Youth Symphony) Taylor played with 3 groups last summer including a jazz band. Maybe in the future I,ll get to see her play with you. That would be a big deal for me.

  7. Loretta

    Mic, great to see you pay it forward. My granddaughter plays trumpet with Chris and Hank. It would be great to see her play with you. I have seen you play several times in S.F. (power of the tower). thanks loretta

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