Professor emeritus receives spot in music hall of fame

Even as a child, Paul Schneider dreamed of being a band leader.

When he was an eighth-grader, Schneider tagged along on his music teachers’ trip to the annual Colorado Music Educators Association conference for workshops on strategies, techniques and inspiration.

Schneider, 70, has missed few association conferences since.

But the conference this January in Colorado Springs will have a new feeling for Schneider.

A professor emeritus at Mesa State College, Schneider will be inducted into the Colorado Music Educators Association’s Hall of Fame after nearly 40 years teaching music in Grand Junction.

The induction honors the devotion to music and jazz that permeates Schneider’s life.

“My dad played tenor (saxophone) in high school in Iowa,” Schneider said, talking about how his interest in music began. “I’d see that old, silver tenor sax sitting in the closest. I’d open that case. It had that musty smell. When I got into fifth grade, I started (playing) the sax.”

He switched to clarinet as a high school freshman, “when I decided I was going to be a band teacher,” and went on to study woodwinds at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley.

After graduating, Schneider worked his way to Grand Junction, where he and his wife, Della, saw openings for clarinetists in the Mesa College Civic Symphony.

When word got out that both Paul and Della Schneider were accomplished woodwind players, and that Paul wanted to teach, he got a job in 1963 as the band director at what used to be Grand Junction Junior High School. Those days contain fond memories for Schneider.

“It was an outstanding music program,” Schneider said. “It was probably the best junior high program in the nation. Others can attest to that. The students were expected to study privately, and it was competitive.”

Paul left the junior high program in 1969 and became a music professor at Mesa Junior College. He directed the jazz and marching bands.

Through the years, Schneider has been involved in the Centennial Concert Band, the Junction Jazz Band and the Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra.

Both Paul and Della Schneider still teach private lessons.

After retiring 10 years ago, Schneider was named a professor emeritus at Mesa State College. He still helps instruct saxophone players, conduct bands and teach middle school students.

Being a professor emeritus has its perks. For example, Schneider uses the college’s library and fitness facilities for free, but “the best part of all is you get an emeritus parking sticker.”

Look for Schneider and two of his sons playing improv blues and rock with Bobby Walker at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 26, at Boomers, 436 Main St.


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