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The Clarence R. Schott Band Room and a memorial stone bench distinguish the memory of Quincy High’s famed music director who led the school’s music program for 35 years. Photo by Roni Java

Clarence R. Schott Memorial Music Fund celebrates ‘legendary’ bandleader, supports young artists

He just missed his 100th birthday party when he passed away in August 2003, but Quincy Junior-Senior High School’s acclaimed music director Clarence R. Schott is still loved to this day.

In fact, his legacy continues to benefit music and young artists in Plumas County through the generosity of the Clarence R. Schott Memorial Music Fund that operates under the auspices of the QHS Boosters, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, to accept donations and consider grant requests. Donations are always welcome.

A legendary music educator

Ask just about anyone how Schott led the school’s music program for 35 years, beginning in 1932, and you’ll easily encounter alumni who speak highly of the years when the “dance band” was in its heyday.

Bob Holbrook (Class of ’48) was in town several weeks ago for the dedication of his family’s stone bench at the high school. His sister played in the band, as did others in his extended family, and he used to go to many of the band’s performances because his fiancée Rita played bass saxophone.

“That band was always in demand, they played everywhere and won a lot of awards,” Holbrook said. “I didn’t get to dance with Rita much, maybe one dance (per show)!”

Nancy Gambell, a grad and former QJSHS cheerleader who curates memorabilia for the high school, agreed.

“The Quincy High jazz band was extremely popular,” she said. “People still remember it.”

Alumni honor the bandleader

Schott’s gift for music education left a deep appreciation in his young musicians, so much so that QJSHS alumna Louise Whiting, one of his early band students, is credited with establishing the memorial music fund when the bandleader passed away four months before his former students could throw him a centennial birthday celebration.

“Louise collected informal donations with an initial purpose simply to memorialize my dad and, in general, provide money to benefit the school band to make up for budgetary shortcomings,” said his son, Michael Schott (Class of ’61), who was contacted for this story.

Schott the younger recalled the affection and high regard his father’s music students held for their director and was quick to share credit for the operation of the fund project.

Together with C. Tom Hasty (Class of ’54) and 1960’s grads Steve Larios and Don “The Son” Penland, Schott said they became “unofficial producers” of a three-volume CD set made from the few band and chorus recordings available, which raised nearly $5,000.

Those recordings, according to Hasty, were recovered from media found in Schott’s estate and “from the cloisters of the band room” with help from Quincy High’s music teacher at that time, in the early 2000s, Bob Gilberti. Hasty added that a lot of people worked together to have the QJSHS band room dedicated in Schott’s name. Today, a stone bench also honors him outside the band building with a special inscription:

Clarence Schott

He revealed to us the joy,

beauty and discipline of music.

Schott’s son recalled that the sale of the CDs got the memorial fund off to a good start and the group talked about ways to use the monies, including supporting music program needs such as instruments and repairs.

And then, something really interesting happened.

Music camp changes a life “The memorable experience of one particular Quincy High student urged our choice,” Schott recalled.

The student, a young man, really loved band and aspired to become a professional trombone player.

“But he had been discouraged from such a pursuit by Mr. Schott,” son Michael said. “Well, in spite of that, or maybe perhaps because of it, that boy’s parents funded their son’s summer music camp for that year from their decidedly limited budget.”

At the end of the camp session, as Schott recalled the discussion, the music faculty for the camp voted the trombone student “most improved” and even waived his tuition.

The experience strongly influenced the young man’s life, Schott explained. In particular, the new trombone player returned to Quincy High with such enthusiasm that fall that it had a very positive affect upon the band’s morale.

“Considering that, we voted to use donated funds for that purpose (too),” Schott said. “And ever since, as long as there is ample student interest, funds have been set aside for summer band camp.”

Honor band support and more

Schott and many others are glad the memorial fund supports various needs for the music program to which his father gave his life.

“Most students have their own instruments,” he observed, “but there’s reason to supply the more expensive ones, such as our latest example of a newly acquired bassoon.”

Schott also said there has been general capital support, in recent years, for what he described as “a long-underfunded band program” and noted the fund earmarks money for students to attend honor band events and other out-of-town performances.

Local music education activist Tristan McMichael, a junior at Quincy High who plays multiple instruments and advocates for support of the performing arts, provides a good example of the importance of this Plumas-focused charitable work. He recently received approval for a $1,000 Schott grant to support travel expenses for the QJSHS Honor Band program.

Thank you, Plumas communities

At the close of his comments, Schott thanked the communities of Plumas County for their generous support of the fund named for his father and encouraged interested donors to contact Nancy Gambell for more information:

QHS Boosters

[a 501(c)(3) organization]

PO Box 3743

Quincy CA 95971

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