One Aspect of Global Music
by Richard Davis
[my mentor Walter Henri Dyett]
My experience in various forms of music has taught me to lend an ear and appreciate the
different elements that come to us from the creative artist. This has been a benefit to me
because it enhances any and all music endeavors I have sought no matter what the primary
focus is.My high school music director Walter Henri Dyett taught with such a global attitude
that his fame reached a high international level.
His spirituality and wisdom was far ahead of his time. Former Chicago Mayor Byrnes, in
honor of him, held a citywide Walter Dyett day fifteen years after his death. My experience
with him shaped my imagery of what could be done through a public school system. Ninety
nine percent of my teaching attitude and philosophy stems from my having been taught by
him. His presence was so strong that he effected the lives of students who never had a
formal class with him. One particular standout is the deceased Mayor Harold Washington
who was in high schooL along with me. Notables who went through his program were
Nat King Cole, Dinah Washington, Johnny Griffin, Gene Ammons and a host of others. He
prepared us all for the careers and life we sought. We were positively effected by him
decades after graduating thereby receiving his updates on music, life and mentoring.
One of the things he told us in 1945 is that we might be replaced by a button [hence electronic music]. He taught us as much as he could about all music. I have been fortunate since 1977 to continue the legacy of his teaching and hopefully prepare my students for the unpredictable route that the forms of music will take.
I have noticed in recent years that a student or person who attends to make a career of music can not focus on one kind. Some of the most prestigious conservatories and music schools are warning and encouraging the student to have an open attitude toward all music. Some students have realized this on their own or at least by being in an open environment at home. One of the most famous is Itzhak Perlman and Nigel Kennedy of the younger set. I spent 23 years of my career in New York where all of my music exposures and experiences were demanded within a twenty four hour period of time. Of course I felt comfortable with this because of the feelings and teachings administered to me by Walter Henri Dyett. I was one of the lucky ones.