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Author Topic: Dr. Neil Humfeld, UT Commerce  (Read 2063 times)
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Rob Dorsey

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« on: Apr 02, 2008, 09:38AM »

I attended East Texas State University (now UT Commerce Campus) from 1965 to 1968 and studied with Dr. Neil Humfeld. I went to ETSU just for Humfeld's trombone program. He was acclaimed to be the best trombone guy in Texas at the time and I passed up North Texas for his program, a big mistake as I look back on it now 40 years later. I'm wondering if anyone else on this board studied with Neil. I succumbed to his mandate for the Conn 88H and Remington mouthpiece. Dr. Humfeld was Eastman trained and that combination is pure Eastman.

I understand that Dr. Humfeld has passed away. Any information would be appreciated.

Best,

Rob Dorsey
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BGuttman
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« Reply #1 on: Apr 02, 2008, 10:18AM »

The International Trombone Association has an annual award given to the best trombone teacher of the year named after Humfeld.  I don't know the exact year of his passing, but I remember a big writeup about him in the ITA Jounal.  I believe it might have been in the late 1980s.

You were lucky to have studied with him.  Even without going to a more noted school you got some great training.

I hope some of our other members can give more detailed information on Dr. Humfeld.
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Bruce Guttman
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Joshua Brown
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« Reply #2 on: Apr 02, 2008, 11:56AM »

I believe he died in the fall of 1991.
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Rob Dorsey

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« Reply #3 on: Apr 02, 2008, 03:31PM »

Thanks for the responses. Humfeld was a comsumate nice guy, but a taskmaster as a teacher. He was also a very serious cat, about trombone playing that is. Far from humorless he was always smiling and joking. My only issue with his method was his insistence on me, and other students, acquiring an 88H and using the Remington mouthpiece. I showed up with a well cared for Conn Director from highschool and, without saying so directly, he made it clear, at least to  me, that funding was the only reason not to have an 88H. I was able to round up the $650 it cost in 1965, so I got one and have had that horn ever since. It was a good horn for orchestral work and big band but one-bone jazz required a different kind of response than the big old 88H provided. At least, that's how it seems to me.

My only minor conflict with Dr. Humfeld was that my focus was on jazz and he sort of pooh-poohed jazz with disdain approaching contempt. He seemed intent on training us for a symphonic career and, yes, if you were his student you played in the quite fabulous ET trombone choir. One thing he did was to build you some chops of steel and he was incredibly intuitive in seeing one's errors or deficiencies and correcting them. I therefore took his wonderful counsel and applied it to my jazz studies. I played the ride chair in the 1'o'clock jazz lab and third in the full big band so his help I credit with getting me there and keeping me there. Also, he was a monster player. I heard him jamming one time with some instructors and he had incredible jazz chops and ideas despite his facade of disapproval.

I figured he was gone but seeing a date on it brings it into focus and is painful. I'm 60 so all my mentors from the 60's and 70's are leaving me.

In all, Neil Humfeld is perhaps the finest man and certainly the best musician of my acquaintance.

Best,
Rob Dorsey
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« Reply #4 on: Apr 02, 2008, 04:42PM »

Initally one correction...ET is now part of the A&M system, not the UT system.  I graduated from there in 2006, where one of his former students, Jimmy Clark, who up until very recently ran the adverts for the Journal, has taught since Dr. Humfeld's death in 1991.

I am very passionate about the history of the trombone program at Commerce, having met many a student who studied with Dr. Humfeld either as a trombone student or through the band program, of which he was director of bands for many years.  His wife is still with us, and though sweet, is tough as nails and doesn't plan on leaving us any time soon.

At the time you were a student, the Conn 88H was the standard in American trombone playing, and for the Remington/Eastman approach, it makes perfect sense that he was insistent on you playing it in lessons, legit ensembles, etc.  I don't think that's just a Neill Humfeld thing...I think it's a collegiate trombone teacher thing.

I have the ETSU Trombone Choir performance from TMEA in the mid 1970's, where Dr. Humfeld played Tommy Pedersen's Cogent Caprice, and some Tutti's Trombones and Hoyt's Garage arrangements of tunes with Dr. Houston on drum set.  Also, the brother of golf legend Byron Nelson, was a voice teacher at ET for many years, and sings the Arie mit Clor from Mozart's Magic Flute with the choir.

Though I never met the man face to face, I am proud to have graduated from a school that has produced so many musicians through the years here in Texas, and if you would like more information, please feel free to contact me via private message or email.
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