How one teacher can change your life (Mr. Sandford)

I hope everyone has a story about how out of the blue someone has redirected and inspired their life. For years I regularly think about how fortunate I was to have Mr. (Tim) Sandford in my life. Here is the story:

Mr. Sandford is a Bach-pun-loving band teacher at Lake City High School in Coeur d’ Alene, ID. I first met Mr. Sandford at a Natural Helpers retreat that he was leading and I was attending. At the end of the retreat we all sat in a big circle and shared something from our experience and I wrote a song on my guitar that week and I shared that. Mr. Sanford approached me afterward and asked if I would be willing to play guitar in the jazz band for the school. I was nervous, but decided to accept the offer and before I knew it my life was changed.
Introducing music during the school day quickly changed what was once an arduous and mechanical routine into something that I couldn’t get enough of. I was playing in the jazz band (we tied for top place at the Lionel Hampton jazz fest in our division that year), cello in the beginners ensemble, and independent piano study. Also, Mr. Sandford let us students run our own “STOMP” class, in which we made up routines and performed a recital of what we had created at the end of the sememster. I was fully involved in music and the relationships I was making were inspiring, encouraging and a lot of fun! I am still in contact with and inspired by a few of them still.

If Mr. Sanford had just written me off as just another kid, like I felt like most teachers had, then I have no idea what kind of shape I’d be in now. He was (and I am sure still is) a fantastic teacher and knew how to bring out the best in his students.

Here are a couple of things I still think about and use from my too short of a year with Mr. Sandford:

  • He taught us to be the best performers we could be
  • To use the word perform instead of play,  i.e. “I am going to perform so and so piece from so so and so composer”.
  • To say perform instead of preform. (you’d be surprised.)
  • If you were late to rehearsal he would say (and we had jazz band everyday at 6:30 A.M.), “if you are on time to a gig you are five minutes late…be early and have your instrument ready to play on time”.
  • He truly cared about his students. I imagine he is still over there in North Idaho caring his heart out.

Thanks Mr. Sandford.