Post 49: Dr. Dan Ross
Recently Arkansas State University produced the video below about my former oboe professor Dr. Dan Ross. This video reminded me of what a huge impact Dr. Ross has had on my life and has prompted me to share a few thoughts with you.
Sometimes in your life you get to encounter some extremely unique and inspirational people. For me one of those people happened to be my first collegiate oboe teacher, Dr. Dan Ross. When I entered college at Arkansas State University as an oboe performance major, I had only been playing oboe for approximately 2 years, some would say “holding an oboe” for 2 years. Most oboists that declare oboe performance as their major have been playing 6, 7 or more years by the time they get to college. Most oboists have had significant playing experience through oboe lessons, school band/orchestra, county honors, all-state, summer music camps, etc., but not me! I was raw! Although I did have very supportive parents that signed me up for oboe lessons right away during my junior year of high school, I ultimately didn’t have any experience playing oboe compared to my freshman counterparts. So needless to say, my abilities as an oboist auditioning for college were not spectacular. My options for college with regards to oboe were limited. But just as my parents and high school band director supported me and thought I had promise pursuing the oboe, so did Dr. Ross!
The rest is history! Not only did Dr. Ross sculpt me into an oboist by playing G. Parès Scales and Barrett Method with a metronome for 2 years solid, Dr. Ross was the catalyst for what I do today as an oboe repair specialist. Dr. Ross is not only an oboe professor but the inventor/designer/builder of the Ross gouging machine. The gouging machine is an integral part of an oboists life when it comes to making their own reeds. The gouging machine in concept is fairly simple. However, the gouging machine in conceptualization is a whole different beast! Dr. Ross loves the oboe! Dr. Ross loves playing the oboe, and Dr. Ross loves making oboe playing easier for whomever he can help. Through Dr. Ross’s love of the oboe and his passion for excellence, I was inspired over and over while studying with him and continue to be all these years later.
There are so many things that I learned from Dr. Ross like how to play with a metronome, how to drink my coffee black, how to be diligent in my day to day studies/practice and the KISS principle, Keep It Simple Stupid! One of the most important things I learned, although I didn’t think so at the time, was how to shut up and do something without actually knowing how to do it, aka, figure things out on your own! Now as an oboe repair specialist, I have to figure things out every day. No repair is exactly alike, and you cannot read a manual to help you figure it out!
During the video, Dr. Ross described the conversation when his oncologist told him he had only 1-2 years left to live. Dr. Ross says, “Boy, it’s been a quick trip! But my next thought was ‘that’s OK I’m still the luckiest person in the world ’cause I’ve got to do in life exactly what I love to do the most.’ Not many people can say that.”
I have to say that I am also the luckiest person in the world to have had the opportunity to study with and come to know Dr. Dan Ross. He is always upbeat and the passion that he exudes is hard to shake off. If you don’t know Dr. Ross or if you have had the same honor that I have, I know you will be inspired as you watch and listen to him in the video below. I encourage you to share this video and send Dr. Ross a short message just as I have done. You can read more about Dr. Ross and get his contact info here: https://goo.gl/nqTJYz