The jazz man plays to his own tune

In Features
Gary Gould, who is a professional musician, can usually be found practicing jazz and other styles of music on campus.

At 52, Gary Gould may not fit the description of a typical college student. Yet, the Cal State Fullerton graduate is recognized as a professional musician and lecturer, who teaches music part-time at the Orange County School of the Arts.

He has command of more than a dozen different woodwind instruments and specializes in live performance of smooth jazz, Irish penny whistle and klezmer, an Eastern-European folk music, to name a few.

Students may have noticed Gould practicing the clarinet or saxophone on campus. But, few realize Gould’s melodies echoed through the university more than two decades ago, when he attended CSUF.

For Gould, music has always been a part of life and his professional career started at a young age. While attending high school in Scottsdale, Arizona, Gould was recruited to play tenor and alto saxophone in an adult big band, The Bill Hunter Orchestra.

Gould’s father, had a different set of plans for his son and expressed that he did not expect him to pursue music as a professional career. Moreover, his father wanted his son to help run the family business, which was an optometry practice.

“I had an interesting conversation with my dad, one day…he asked me if I would become an optometrist and join him in business,” Gould said. “I was disappointed, because I did not want to be an optometrist … I didn’t even think about it.”

He declined the offer. However, his reaction to his father’s proposal served as a defining moment in his life as a young musician.

“I said, Dad, I never thought you were happy as an optometrist, I always thought you wanted to do something else,” Gould recalls. “And it was the first time I ever saw my dad cry,” he said. “He said, ‘you’re right. I wish I had done something else.’”

Gould knew he wanted to pursue music as a career and he got his first ‘real job’ as a saxophonist on a cruise ship. He was making an honest living as a musician, but still being pressured to pursue an academic degree.

Finally, to honor his father’s wishes, he enrolled at CSUF as an advertising major and left music behind.

“I quit music to do this,” he said. “This was my deal with my dad, I was going to quit music and go into advertising. Kinda like, ‘okay, I did the music thing for a while, and now I’m going to do what a responsible adult is supposed to do, that was my attitude.’”

After a few months as an advertising major, Gould remembers visiting the music department; unaware everything was about to change.

“I could immediately hear in the distance that a band was playing,” Gould said. “I opened the door and stick my head in, and a voice says, ‘Gary Gould, what are you doing here?’”

Gould had just randomly reunited with a former bandmate from the Bill Hunter Orchestra, who had moved to California and become a professor of engineering at CSUF. The professor then introduced Gould to the university’s jazz band director, and Gould’s relationship with the music department began.

Despite majoring in advertising, Gould was still highly involved within the university’s music department. In fact, as a member of the CSUF Jazz Orchestra, Gould received CSUF’s Most Outstanding Jazz Musician Award in 1989. Additionally, in 1995, Gould won the Southern California Saxophone Competition hosted by John Tesh and the Jazz radio station KTWV “The Wave.”

Now, having returned to his alma mater, Gould is in his second semester of undergraduate studies for the master’s program for jazz performance, at the newly distinguished School of Music. Gould’s aspirations toward continuing his education are motivated by his passion for music, and his goal to share his musical expertise at the collegiate level.

Gould’s classmate, Joshua Phillips, 21, is seeking his bachelor’s of music in classical clarinet performance. Phillips met Gould last semester and explained that Gould has become both a good friend and mentor. Phillips said Gould’s natural ability to teach allows him to reach the students on another level, something that Phillips has tried in his own lessons.

“Gary’s virtue is patience … he’s able to get the student to come alive with the music and open up, through the music. To learn by having fun, because of the music,” Phillips said. “That’s what I’ve tried to do with my students, and its worked.”

Charles Tumlinson, Ph.D. professor of music and co-director of the Jazz Studies Program at CSUF in his 14th year, said he knew Gould professionally,long before he was one of his students.

“I’ve known Gary for most the time I’ve been here,” Tumlinson said. “We’ve played together profession- ally and he did let me know very early on he was a graduate of CSUF, from another department.”

Gould’s case is unique, but he understood that the pursuit of education will enable him to accomplish his true pas- sion, which is teaching, Tumlinson said.

“Not every dimension of what he has done is typical, but it is not unusual for somebody to have reached a certain point in their life and decided they really would like an education in something they didn’t have,” Tumlinson said. “And I think also for Gary, I know there are some teaching opportunities he can have.”

It was Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the historic American poet who famously remarked:

“Music is the universal language of mankind.” To Gould, however, music can be characterized as a universal compass, continually leading him to education, happiness and CSUF.

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