The Uproar

Good Talk: Mr. Stefan

He's got swing in his bones, and he'll even tolerate a senior prank if it's sufficiently ridiculous

Nick Giorgetti, Politics Editor

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Favorite movie and why?

Rocky II.  I love all the Rocky‘s but it’s my favorite because I love the inspirational value.  But The Big Lebowski is a really close second.

Favorite color?

Blue

Favorite drummer and band?

Sonny Payne.  He had the longest stint with the Count Basie Big Band.  I liked him because he was never known as a soloist–he could just drive the band and swing.  And my favorite band is the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra

Why did you choose drums?

My dad played drums, and I always loved playing his Gretsch Silver Sparkle snare drum from 1967.

People would be surprised to know that …

I’m into model railroading

What got you into teaching?

It was two-fold.  I always admired what my high school band director did and how he did it.  My college band director at Youngstown fostered that even more.

Best parts about teaching band?

Couple things.  I love being able to work with all the band students and make music.  My favorite part is the progression of rehearsals over time.  I like getting my hands dirty and seeing the band conquer a difficult piece.

Best memories of teaching band?

My best memory of band was the third band trip with NA I took to Virginia Beach.  It was also the first time we brought all the jazz and concert bands.  After the wind ensemble stopped playing, all the other kids watching stood up yelled and clapped.  It still happens now and I think on this trip is where the esprit de corps of the band started.

Best concert you’ve been to and why?

Count Basie Orchestra at Hartwood Acres.  They can swing.

Worst concert and why?

I saw a vocal jazz ensemble years ago where the director had the ensemble take 20 minutes to demonstrate vocal exercises.  The group then made barn animal noises like oink and moo.  It was so awful the concert venue came on and told them they had to stop.

Best place to see a concert?

Carnegie Hall, New York City.  It is acoustically perfect.

What was it like playing for Rita Moreno last year?

I luckily didn’t realize it until the concert was over.  All the great things she said about our jazz band were very humbling.

Is mayonnaise an instrument?

No, mayonnaise is not an instrument.  But the mayonnaise jar could be.

Least favorite instrument?

Violin.  It’s either really good or really bad.

Favorite food?

My Hungarian grandmother’s goulash.  It was so amazing it cannot be recreated.

Favorite lunch meat?

Genoa salami from Penn Mac in the Strip District.  So good.

If you could have dinner with any three musicians from history who would it be and why?

Frank Sinatra because I’d love to hear all of his stories, Buddy Rich cause I want to find out what makes that guy tick, and lastly Count Basie.  I’d talk to him about what makes his band swing and groove so hard.  That groove has never been recreated or exactly matched.  I’d love to pick his brain on that.

Favorite T.V. show?

House.  I love Hugh Laurie’s dry sense of humor and sarcasm.

Favorite book?

Miles Davis’s autobiography.  It has a lot of cuss words and is an interesting read.

What’s it like having your son playing trumpet in an NA band and knowing that one day you’ll teach him?

It’s cool.  I love watching him grow as a musician, and I have made it clear he has to earn everything.  It’s amazing getting to watch this all firsthand.

Favorite sport and player of that sport?

Hockey.  My favorite player of all time is Marc Andre Fleury.  He’s a nice, genuine guy and a great teammate.  But at the current moment, Phil Kessel.  If I were a professional athlete, I’d be Phil Kessel.

Greatest senior prank you’ve seen in band?

The legendary lobster prank.  A few years ago a bunch of seniors paid something like $250 on some sketchy website to have lobsters overnighted and delivered to their hotel room.  It was so expensive and absurd that I couldn’t be upset with them.

 

 

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