In Honor and Loving Memory of the Life of
Raymond Brandon
ASBOA President and Executive Secretary, Emeritus
 

In His Own Words… 

 “Some of the most appreciative students I ever had were not necessarily the best musicians by any means.  The important thing is that they loved music, and many times, they are the people who needed it the most.  It seemed to add so much pride and feeling of importance to their school life.  I could give many examples of what music has done for students who have gone through the band.  There was a closeness in those groups, like family.  It was “heart” that bound them together for the sheer love of music for what music is all about.  To me, there is no emotional feeling that can come close to matching that of a great performance of music by a band, orchestra, or choir that has performed better than it is possible to do.  You can feel the emotion spreading throughout the entire ensemble like a fire that consumes.  No one has to say anything, but there may be tears flowing.  You can understand why I would not change anything in my life if it were to be lived over again, other than I would try to be more loving…”
 

This feature article by Hillary Woodworth was run in last Thursday’s Democrat-Gazette.  You may express your appreciation to her by sending her a note at hwoodworth@arkansasonline.com .

John Raymond Brandon: Band director left statewide legacy

BY HILLARY WOODWORTH ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE

John Raymond Brandon is often called the grandfather of Arkansas bands and was instrumental in creating the Arkansas School Band and Orchestra Association, friend Julia Reynolds said.
   Brandon preferred wearing a suit and tie and a handkerchief in his pocket. Friends said Brandon inspired students to perform their best, regardless of their musical abilities.
   Brandon once wrote, “Some of the most appreciative students I ever had were not necessarily the best musicians by any means. The important thing is that they loved music, and many times, they are the people who needed it the most.”
   Brandon died Monday in his North Little Rock home from congestive heart failure.
   He was 98.
   He served as executive secretary along with his wife, Ruth Brandon, in the Arkansas School Band and Orchestra Association and retired just five years ago, friends said.
   “Ray is probably the most important person in the history of bands in Arkansas,” friend Eldon Janzen said. “He wrote books on curriculum guides before there were any.”
   Janzen remembers going with Brandon in 1954 to judge the first contest that gave division ratings to bands in Arkansas.
   “Before that they just critiqued the bands, they didn’t rate them,” Janzen said. “We traveled to regional contests around the state and shared a room one time. Every morning he got up early and ran five miles. I decided after that not to share a room with him because he made me feel guilty.”
   Daughter Lisa Doss of Jacksonville followed in her father’s footsteps and taught band in North Little Rock for several years.
   “He would come to the school and work with the students one-on-one. He had such an intense love for what he did. They were very excited to work with Mr. Brandon,” Doss said.
   Brandon began his career teaching band in Heber Springs briefly and then at Texarkana High School before moving to North Little Rock. Brandon retired after serving 22 years as director of bands in the North Little Rock School District.
   Mike Croom, a former student of Brandon’s and retired North Little Rock music director, said Brandon worked well with all types of students.
   “He was a very helpful mentor and friend in the profession,” Croom said. “He brought out the best in students.”
   Brandon loved being with relatives and enjoyed reading history novels. He also had a hobby of woodworking.
   “He made me a lamp out of an old clarinet,” Doss said. “They don’t make guys like that anymore.”

This story was published Thursday, December 08, 2005

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This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc.