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EULOGY FOR BOB KEEN I COUNT MYSELF EXTRAORDINARILY LUCKY TO HAVE BEEN A STUDENT OF MR. KEEN’S AT LETO FROM 1989-1991. AFTER I GRADUATED, I REMAINED IN TOUCH WITH MR. KEEN OFF AN ON THROUGHOUT THE YEARS.

IT IS ONLY IN THE FULLNESS OF TIME THAT WE TRULY GAIN PERSPECTIVE ON THE EVENTS AND PEOPLE THAT WILL ULTIMATELY SHAPE US FOR THE REST OF OUR LIVES, FOR GOOD OR FOR ILL. AS A SOCIETY, THE MOLDING AND SHAPING OF OUR CHILDREN, AND THUS OUR FUTURE, IS LEFT IN NO SMALL MEASURE IN THE HANDS OF THE MEN AND WOMEN WE CHOOSE TO EDUCATE THEM. A GREAT TEACHER IS LIKE A CANDLE- THEY CONSUME THEMSELVES TO LIGHT THE WAY FOR OTHERS. WILLIAM ARTHUR WARD ONCE SAID “THE MEDIOCRE TEACHER TELLS. THE GOOD TEACHER EXPLAINS.

THE SUPERIOR TEACHER DEMONSTRATES.

THE

GREAT TEACHER INSPIRES.” FOR ME, THE BEST AND HIGHEST PRAISE I CAN GIVE MR. KEEN IS THAT HE WAS A GREAT, GREAT TEACHER.

NOT JUST A

TEACHER OF MUSIC, BUT A TEACHER OF THE BROADER LESSONS OF LIFE. A GREAT TEACHER DISCOVERS THE NATURAL GIFTS OF HIS STUDENTS AND LIBERATES THEM BY THE STIMULATING INFLUENCE OF THE INSPIRATION THAT HE CAN IMPART. THE TRUE LEADER MAKES HIS FOLLOWERS TWICE WHAT THEY WERE BEFORE. MR. KEEN WAS A MASTER AT IDENTIFYING WHAT EACH OF US DID WELL AND FOSTERING HEALTHY COMPETITION IN ORDER TO MAKE EACH OF HIS STUDENTS

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BETTER MUSICIANS. MR. KEEN WOULD ALWAYS SELECT CHALLENGING PIECES FOR US TO PLAY, AND INVARIABLY EXTRACT THE BEST PERFORMANCE OUT OF US, GETTING THE BAND TO RISE NOT ONLY TO THE CHALLENGE OF THE MUSIC, BUT HIS EXPECTATIONS.

MR. KEEN INSPIRED US TO BE CONNOISSEURS OF

GOOD MUSIC, AND TO APPRECIATE IT NOT JUST FOR WHAT IT IS ON ITS SURFACE. MR. KEEN FOSTERED A DEEPER UNDERSTANDING THAT COMES FROM KNOWING THE SECRET RECIPE OF MUSIC; THE IMPORTANCE OF DYNAMICS, THE EMOTION DERIVED FROM MOVEMENT, THE ELEGANCE OF THE SILENCE BETWEEN THE NOTES.

IN SHORT, MR. KEEN TAUGHT US TO APPRECIATE EVERYTHING THAT MAKES MUSIC WONDERFUL.

IN DOING SO, MR. KEEN GAVE US INSIGHT INTO THE

GREATEST AMBITIONS OF MAN, HIS SECRET HOPES AND DREAMS, AS REFLECTED IN THE GREATEST OF ARTS.

A GREAT TEACHER AFFECTS ETERNITY; HE CAN NEVER TELL WHERE HIS INFLUENCE STOPS. PERHAPS MR. KEEN’S GREATEST GIFT TO HIS STUDENTS WAS HIS UNFLAGGING INSISTENCE THAT EACH OF US TAKE PRIDE IN WHAT WE DO; PRIDE IN BOTH HOW YOU GO ABOUT YOUR WORK, AND PRIDE IN YOUR RESULTS.

THERE WERE MANY A PRACTICE WHERE WE WOULD PLAY THE SAME PIECE OVER AND OVER AGAIN UNTIL WE GOT IT RIGHT AND GAVE MR. KEEN THAT

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“BIG HORN SOUND” HE WAS AFTER. I REMEMBER INSPECTIONS BEFORE GAMES STANDING AT ATTENTION WHILE MR. KEEN WALKED DOWN THE LINE INSPECTING HORNS AND UNIFORMS FOR WHAT SEEMED LIKE AN ETERNITY UNTIL HE WAS SATISFIED THAT EVERYONE, TO A PERSON, CARRIED THEMSELVES WITH THE PRIDE AND ATTENTION TO DETAIL BEFITTING THE WORK WE HAD PUT IN. PERHAPS AT THE TIME ANY OF US DID NOT APPRECIATE THE LARGER LESSON MR. KEEN WAS IMPARTING TO US: THAT WE SHOULD ALWAYS BE INVESTED IN DOING OUR BEST AND PUTTING IN THE HARD WORK REQUIRED TO ACCOMPLISH WHAT WE WANT. BECAUSE IN LIFE, IT’S VERY EASY TO DO WHAT YOU WANT WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE IT. IT IS MUCH HARDER TO SUBLIMATE THE INDIVIDUAL FOR THE COLLECTIVE, AND PUT FORTH YOUR BEST EFFORT IN ALL ASPECTS OF WHAT YOU ARE DOING TO MAKE SURE THE GROUP SUCCEEDS.

MR. KEEN SAID IT BEST BEFORE JUST ABOUT EVERY

PERFORMANCE: “IT’S ABOUT PRIDE, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.”

MR. KEEN ALSO EMPHASIZED PRIDE IN YOUR RESULTS. THE THING MR. KEEN TAUGHT US ITS OK TO BE CONFIDENT, NOT COCKY. THIS IS AN IMPORTANT DISTINCTION. COCKINESS COMES FROM THE BELIEF THAT YOU WILL SUCCEED NO MATTER WHAT BY DINT OF WHO YOU ARE. MR. KEEN DESPISED COCKINESS. HOWEVER, MR. KEEN HAD NO PROBLEM WITH US BEING CONFIDENT. THAT CONFIDENCE COMES FROM HAVING PUT IN THE WORK TO PREPARE. IF YOU HAVE PREPARED PROPERLY, AND YOU ARE FOCUSED ON THE TASK AT HAND, THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH BELIEVING YOU ARE GOING TO DO WELL,

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BECAUSE YOU PROBABLY WILL. CONFIDENT

ATTITUDE,

SO

LONG

MR. KEEN DIDN’T MIND US HAVING A AS

WE

BACKED

IT

UP

WITH

OUR

PERFORMANCES.

NO ONE CAN BE A GREAT TEACHER UNLESS HE HAS FEELINGS OF WARM AFFECTION TOWARDS HIS PUPILS AND A GENUINE DESIRE TO IMPART TO THEM WHAT HE BELIEVES TO BE OF VALUE. WHEN YOU LOVE PEOPLE AND HAVE THE DESIRE TO MAKE A PROFOUND, POSITIVE IMPACT UPON THE WORLD, THEN YOU WILL HAVE ACCOMPLISHED THE MEANING OF LIFE.

MR. KEEN TAUGHT US TO CARE ABOUT AND RESPECT EACH ANOTHER. MR. KEEN WOULD NOT TOLERATE BOORISH AND IMMATURE BEHAVIOR.

HE

DEMANDED AND EXPECTED EACH AND EVERY ONE OF HIS STUDENTS TO BE CONSCIENTIOUS AND RESPECTFUL OF EACH OTHER FIRST AND FOREMOST. IN RETURN, MR. KEEN TREATED HIS STUDENTS WITH RESPECT AND GENUINELY CARED ABOUT WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN OUR LIVES OUTSIDE OF HIS CLASSROOM.

THIS WAS NOT LIMITED TO HOW WE WERE DOING IN OTHER

CLASSES, BUT OUR SOCIAL LIVES AS WELL.

MR. KEEN WAS VERY MUCH IN TUNE WITH THE SOAP OPERA THAT IS HIGH SCHOOL, AS DEMONSTRATED BY ROUSING GAMES OF “PEOPLE WANNA KNOW”, WHERE MR. KEEN WOULD ASK WHO WAS DATING WHOM AND WHO WAS IN TROUBLE FOR WHAT. HOW HE GOT HIS INFORMATION, NO ONE KNOWS, BUT HE WAS AS GOOD AS THE F.B.I.

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MR. KEEN ALSO MADE BEING IN BAND FUN. HARD WORK, PUSH-UPS, 8 TO 5, NO MATTER WHAT, EVERYTHING WAS DONE WITH AN EYE TOWARDS HAVING A GOOD TIME AND ENJOYING THE RIDE. I REMEMBER MY FIRST SUMMER BAND SESSION AND MY FIRST LESSON ABOUT THE PROPER WAY TO WEAR A PLUME ON OUR HATS.

NOW, I REMEMBER SITTING BETWEEN REY REYNO AND WADE HAMPTON, BOTH SENIOR TRUMPET PLAYERS. MR. KEEN CALLED ON ME, AND OF COURSE I GOT IT WRONG. MR. KEEN SORT OF SHOOK HIS HEAD, AND THEN WENT ON TO THE NEXT PERSON. I WAS SITTING THERE TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHICH WAS THE FRONT AND WHICH WAS THE BACK, AND KEPT ASKING “HOW DO THEY KNOW?” AFTER A WHILE, REY REYNO LOOKED AT ME AND SAID “WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?! THERE’S NO FRONT OR BACK. ARE YOU SURE YOU’RE READY TO GO TO HIGH SCHOOL?”

I ALSO REMEMBER MR. KEEN AS A MASTER AVIATOR WITH PAPER AIRPLANES. ONE TIME, THE JAZZ BAND WAS PLAYING AT ONE OF THE MANY SCHOOL AWARD CEREMONIES AND MS. MASSEY WAS SPEAKING BEFORE THE CROWD. THE EVENING’S PROGRAM WAS NOT THE STUFF OF LEGENDS. TO PASS THE TIME, EARL HENNING AND I WERE FLYING A LITTLE PAPER AIRPLANE BACK AND FORTH, OUTSIDE THE SIGHT OF THE CROWD. ONE OF THE THROWS WENT A LITTLE OFF, AND LANDED BY MR. KEEN WHO WAS STANDING JUST OFF THE STAGE. HE SHOT A LOOK AT EARL AND ME THAT MADE IT VERY CLEAR HE WAS

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NOT PLEASED. WE THEN THOUGHT THE BEST THING WOULD BE TO SIT STOCK STILL AND NOT GET IN ANY MORE TROUBLE. ABOUT THIRTY SECONDS LATER, THE AIRPLANE COMES FLYING RIGHT INTO MY LAP. I LOOKED OVER AND MR. KEEN WAS STANDING THERE WITH A GIANT GRIN ON HIS FACE.

THE GREATEST TEACHERS TEACH THE LIFE THEY LIVE.

PRIDE, EFFORT, LOVE AND LAUGHTER. MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE, I THINK THIS DESCRIBES MR. KEEN. MR. KEEN WORKED HARD, EXPECTED MUCH, CARED MORE, AND HAD A GOOD TIME DOING IT.

HE LED BY EXAMPLE AND HE

EXPECTED NOTHING MORE FROM HIS STUDENTS THAN HE EXPECTED FROM HIMSELF.

CHARLES AUGUSTIN SAINTE-BEUVE SAID “TELL ME WHO ADMIRES YOU AND LOVES YOU, AND I WILL TELL YOU WHO YOU ARE.” THE PEOPLE IN THIS ROOM ARE TESTAMENT TO WHO MR. KEEN WAS AS A HUSBAND, A FATHER, AN EDUCATOR AND A FRIEND.

PEOPLE PLACE A GREAT EMPHASIS ON A LOVED ONE’S PASSING; THEY LOOK AT DEATH THROUGH THE CHEAP-GLAZED WINDOWS OF THE FLESH, AND BELIEVE IT TO BE THE MONSTER WHICH THE FLAWED AND CRACKED GLASS REPRESENTS BECAUSE WE CAN WATCH LIFE HAPPEN AND TAKE ITS COURSE, BUT WE DON’T KNOW WHAT IS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE JOURNEY.

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BUT FOR ME, THE


HARDEST THINGS TO BEAR ARE ALSO THE SWEETEST TO REMEMBER.

AND

WHILE I AM PROFOUNDLY SADDENED BY MR. KEEN’S PASSING, THAT SADNESS IS CRUSHED BY THE WEIGHT OF THE HAPPY MEMORIES AND EXPERIENCES I HAD AS HIS STUDENT.

WE SHOULD NEVER BE DISMAYED AT GOODBYES.

A

FAREWELL IS NECESSARY BEFORE YOU CAN MEET AGAIN.

WHILE WE WILL BE SAD FOR A LITTLE WHILE, MR. KEEN’S MEMORY, HIS VALUES, AND HIS LEGACY WILL SURROUND US, AND LIVE THROUGH US, LONG AFTER THIS DAY. I AM HONORED TO HAVE KNOWN HIM, AND I WILL MISS HIM. WE LOVE YOU VERY MUCH, MR. KEEN. FAREWELL FOR NOW, UNTIL WE SEE YOU AGAIN.

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Eulogy for Bob Keen  

Some people asked me to post my testimonial from Mr. Keen's service. Here it is.

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