This page gives us an opportunity to introduce one of our members “up close and personal”. Our featured player is Jim Mair, trumpet.
Jim and his wife Diane lived in the North Penn area from February 1982 until September 2007. They recently built a new home in Coopersburg, PA, but Jim says he and Diane will always have a sentimental link to the staff in the North Penn School District, the Marching Knights, the Montgomery County Concert Band, and participation in the Layman Playmen under the “talented direction of Dr. Davis Giersch.”
Jim is a 1962 graduate from Lincoln Consolidated H.S. near Ypsilanti, MI, which was affiliated with Eastern Michigan University. He is a 1967 graduate with a B.S. in Chemistry. He then went to Indiana University in Bloomington, IN (’67-’70) and earned a Master’s Degree in Chemistry. In 1972, he came to the Delaware Valley from Indiana and worked for Rohm and Haas. During his years here he also earned a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science, which enabled him to pursue a career with Rohm and Haas as an industrial hygienist. “In this profession, I was involved with helping workers in Rohm and Haas world-wide to manufacture chemical products we all use in daily life (e.g., paints, plastics, water treatment resins, electronic chemicals, salt) without harm to themselves. I worked for Rohm and Haas for almost 36 years through December 2007. In the past year I have been working with a Philadelphia-based Occupational Health consulting firm. I will soon begin working with a pharmaceutical company.”
Jim began playing trumpet in 4th grade. “The teacher throughout all my years at Lincoln was Mr. Robert I. Biederwolf. In high school marching band we learned to play his alma mater’s fight song ‘On Wisconsin’, but about mid-song on cue, we would switch to ‘The Victors’ (much to his displeasure), a more local and better school. The music program at Lincoln was very good in the years I attended primary school. The high school bands numbered 80-90 kids in a school whose student population was about 400. In high school we learned a new marching routine with new music weekly, but I must admit they were pretty easy compared to what we are used to in this community. As to what kept me motivated, I think it was the music. The drum majorette was cute, too. I played in both concert and marching bands and in the orchestra. I also played in the pit orchestra. We competed in regional, district and state band and orchestra festivals, and one year I played in the solo and ensemble festival too.”
In the mid-70’s Jim played in the Bucks County Symphony under Dr. George Hammond for about three years, and briefly under Dr. Middleman. Business travel took him away, but he still played at home. He joined the Montgomery County Concert Band in the very first week (spring of 1995). “I had not played in a group since about 1977, and I remember being a bit nervous on that first night. Within about 30 minutes, it all seemed pretty normal.”
Jim’s wife, Diane, was a North Penn school nurse for several years. She is a clinical data manager with Omnicare and still finds time to play the piano. “Our two girls, Carrie and Rebecca, both played flute and piano all through their years in the North Penn school district. Both were section leaders in the North Penn Marching Knights. Carrie’s favorite music teacher was Don Kline! (Aside from Don: “This kid has great taste!!”) Rebecca was a double major at PSU in piano performance and microbiology for a year. She married the North Penn March Knights drum major (Gregory Fox) after she finished the microbiology degree, and he finished engineering degrees at PSU and Penn (MS). “David is our oldest. He played violin throughout his years at North Penn. In high school he played under Mr. Tackett, the orchestra director. All three are gainfully employed, Carrie in Syracuse, UT as a biologist with Myriad Genetics, Rebecca with Merck, and David as a Social Studies teacher in the Philadelphia School District.
“A word or two about the MCCB is important even though it is not possible to cover it all in only a few words. Suffice it to say that the MCCB directors bring to this community the best there is in concert band music. Their skills and love for the music are evident to us all. I have played trumpet while in primary school, college, graduate school, and in the Bucks County Symphony, and Steve and Chuck are simply the best it’s been my good fortune to follow. We are very lucky to have them. Without the members, of course, they would be waving their arms without much purpose, and the MCCB could not happen. I feel so lucky to live amidst so much talent and be able to enjoy this art form with all of you. Many thanks. Lastly, let me just tell you that my in-laws, Gus and Eleanor Merkle, live at Brittany Point, and I know I can speak for them. Our music is a much loved event in their lives and those of their friends. They truly look forward to us playing for them. Let’s keep it up!”
Don Kline, MCCB personnel manager, says this about Jim: “MCCB Director Steve Frederick always makes an effort to inform the public how varied the careers and interests of our players really are, showing the benefits of musical participation in education and through one’s life. Jim is an example. He has a very successful career in science but an obvious love for making music, which was passed on through his family. I have had the pleasure of knowing the Mair family for many years and teaching both Carrie and Becky. The Mair family is a perfect example of the type of players we are proud to work with in the MCCB and in our educational system.
“Jim mentioned Dr. Davis Giersch in his biography. Dr. Giersch is a master teacher in every sense of the word. He is a fine composer and educator. He runs the vocal program at North Penn High School, however he is a fine instrumentalist. He can move from performing a cantata to improvising in a jazz jam session. If we need a player in the MCCB, he is always there. If I made an attempt at his biography or accomplishments, I would need more web space. Many thanks, Dr. Giersch.”