• Interview with Dr. Paul Droste

    Nowicke: How did you get connected with Yamaha?

    Droste: When I was first on the faculty at Ohio State in the late 1960's I was the assistant director of the Marching Band and we used to take trips to Chicago quite often to play Northwestern, or stop there on the way to Minneapolis, or on to Madison, Wisconsin, and it got so the director of the band, Charlie Spohn, would take any excuse possible to get to Chicago, because there were some very favorite restaurants of his there. [laughs] When I go to the Midwest clinic, I still go back and visit some of those same restaurants, they're still there.

    We got acquainted with a man by the name of Ed Garbett, who at that time was selling Gretsch drums, and the Ohio State Marching Band always used Gretsch drums. There was one year in the late 1960's where Charlie Spohn got a university airplane, and flew the whole percussion section, and me, the assistant director, to Chicago. We toured the Ludwig Company, and met Bill, Jr., Bill, Sr. and all the Ludwigs that were there at that time, and then went over to the Gretsch Company and were hosted by Garbett. At the end of the day they would say, "Fellows, you've seen how the drums are made, you've heard them played, which do you want?" They chose Gretsch. So, Ed Garbett was the kind, that if we were in Chicago, we'd call Ed and he'd meet us at one of these fancy restaurants, and, of course, pick, up the tab. So, when you're a broke grad student and new faculty member, that was fine!

    I started my doctorate at the University of Arizona in the summer of 1969. I was a DMA student in euphonium, I transferred in most of a music education minor that I'd started at Ohio State, and was primarily studying euphonium, doing research on literature and euphonium, playing recitals, and taking an occasional class in theory or history or something else. Jack Lee was the band director a that time, and two or three times during the year, he would call me into his office and say something like "The Mirafone Company has just shipped us a euphonium, I want you to play it in band for a couple days, maybe take it up to your lesson, just give it a good trial run and let me know." When I did that on the Mirafone, it looked like a tuba, it sounded like a tuba, it played like a tuba, and I didn't want to play a tuba, so after a couple days, it was obvious that wasn't going to do me any good.

    I think somebody sent an Alexander in that time, and about the third or fourth one was a Yamaha, which turned out to be the Yamaha 321 (which is the four valves on top), which was the first Yamaha euphonium available in this country. I didn't know much about Yamaha other than water skis, and motorcycles, you know, at that time Yamaha really did not have a presence in this country. So I took the horn home for a weekend, and just loved it, and the real intonation problems that I'd been having with my Besson, the sharp 6th partial, the flat 5th partial, and some of these other notes that shouldn't be sharp or flat that were, anyway. Within a weekend, I was convinced that I was sounding better, and working less hard (especially in intonation) to play the Yamaha, even though it was not a compensating model.

    So, my association began there, and I called Ed Garbett, because I knew him from my Ohio State days, and knew he was with Yamaha. The local music store wanted the horn back. I called Ed, and I said, "I haven't got enough money to buy the thing, I am a full-time student here, but I'd like to keep playing it in band." He said, "Paul, you just hang onto that as long as you like. I know it's in good hands, and if we need it, we'll call you." But in the meantime, the local store kept calling me about every week, "When are you going to turn that euphonium in?" I said, "Well, Ed Garbett says I can keep it as long as I want."

    So I finished out the year with it and played my final recital on it. Then, in the spring break, the University of Arizona band took a tour. We to San Diego to play the CBDNA conference, and then went into Los Angeles, spent a day at Disneyland, and then bussed back to Tucson. I was the tour soloist, playing a piece by David Martin, who was a fellow masters student with me at Eastman, a composition major. I played it, and it wasn't a great piece, but it was a pretty good piece, and pretty soon, in that San Diego/Los Angeles area (and, of course, Yamaha had a major presence right in Los Angeles) they're getting all sorts of orders for the Yamaha euphonium. After the solo performance, several of the band directors came up and said, "I don't recognize this euphonium, what is it?" I said, "It's a Yamaha." They said, "You sounded great on it."

    So, from that point on, I've been a clinician for Yamaha. It was just kind of that quick. I had made (in my own egotistical state) some inquiries with Boosey & Hawkes and some others, like "I'm a college graduate, I have two degrees, and I'm a good euphonium player, can you use me as a clinician?" "Yeah, you and hundreds else!" The Yamaha thing really just fell right into my lap.

    I should mention while we are on Yamaha, that in the early days of T.U.B.A., at least when we became active here in Columbus (and I'm talking early 1970's) there were Regional, I think Les Varner held one (or maybe two) Regionals at Ball State. Francis Laws and Myron Welch ran one at Wright State University, and Gary Tirey I think ran one of the early ones at Otterbein College. I had a sweetheart deal with Yamaha to assist all of my students (all of my students were playing Yamaha at that time). I probably, in a typical year would carry 10-12, 13 euphonium majors. My numbers were high, and had some real good ones (at the top) and I was able to convince Yamaha that they ought to send us to these things. So they would provide travel money for vans, pick up the lodging, pick up the registration perhaps. I'd show up at these conventions with 10, 12, 13, 14, students and me, all paid for! We were definitely [laughs] looked on with jealousy by the others, but Yamaha did that in the early years. They don't anymore, but they did that to get their instruments established, and to get them out.

    So, it's been a very good association with Yamaha. In recent years I've done more brass band workshops under their sponsorship than I have euphonium. But I got to Hawaii one time, and all around the South - New Orleans, I made some neat trips for Yamaha events.

    Nowicke: How do you like their new euphonium? 641?

    Droste: 642. [The] 641 is not so good, that was their first compensator, the 642 is excellent, it's even-responding, they changed the angle of the lead pipe, so now I don't have to use a pillow, or block of wood, or the Dee Stewart stand or something. Last weekend was the rodeo here, and I've been in the rodeo band for the last 25 years, and when we were doing two shows a day, and you have to have the instrument at the ready, waiting for the bull to come out of the chute, I would get tremendous backaches, shoulder-aches. You know, one rodeo, a couple of hours off, and then go do it again. I'd be in bad shape. Now that I have the 642, I don't use any of those things any more, and I come out pretty fresh. I don't know why somebody didn't think about that ahead of time, but the way the mouth pipe is on the 321's, you either have to raise the instrument or lower your chin to get there. It's just not comfortable. Not comfortable at all.

    Nowicke: What about for a smaller person?

    Droste: Well, even then, no, it just doesn't hold right. The minute you put it in your hands, you know that something's right or something's wrong, and with the 642 it's right. It just goes right where you want it to go.
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