"That December, I moved to Charleston without a job. They had let the band director go at Logan High School. It was in the paper. I called the board of education in Logan County and shipped my information down there.
"Waiting to hear, I was getting nervous. I got up one Monday morning and got on the four-lane going to Logan and called the board of education said I was on my way.
"The personnel woman walked me into the superintendent's office. He called the school principal and we drove to the high school. They told me I could start on the 22nd.
"I commuted just under five years. The commute was cool because I drank my coffee and had an hour drive and was planning my day.
"Then we had our first child. In high school band, you have band booster meetings, the concession stand, football and basketball games, graduation prep, all that stuff. I was never home. Many nights, if I had a football game on Friday and the band was going to a competition on Saturday, I'd sleep on a pullout couch in my office, shower in the locker room, get on a bus on Saturday morning and go to the competition.
"I started having trouble staying awake on the drive. I would go a week or week and a half and never see my son awake.
"I loved my job. Small-town band is a rich tradition. There's a great fan base. Anything I wanted, they were behind me 100 percent. But I started to actively look. I had to get closer to home.
"I got on in Kanawha County at Piedmont and Glenwood. I had that half-and-half position until I moved to the West Side. We have two music positions in this building, one splits between here and Piedmont, my old position.
"We are a year-round school, so I started in July. This is the perfect world situation for a music room. I would put my resources up against anybody in West Virginia.
"Kids come here from other schools with the Magnet Program. Carolyn Prine started the magnet music school, the only one in the state. It's an audition process for kindergarten through fifth grade.
"I teach West Side kids until lunchtime. Then Capitol District kids are bused in. I have parents who will drive kids in from any school in the county. The classes are an hour and 45 minutes long. Then they go back to regular school.
"This is my day job. Tuesday and Thursday I teach part time at UC. They brought the football program back and wanted a band program to go with it. I started a pep band there. We play at all the home games. We did a large drum line for the football games this year. We're playing now for the basketball games. I started steel band there also.
"I teach percussion ensemble at GW on Monday nights, and I work with the drum line during football season. I teach once a week at St. Marks. I started a steel band there also. The congregation loves it.
"I play steel drums with VooDoo Katz. And I play with a big band, Lipzz, Jeff Flanagan's group. They do a lot of weddings and corporate functions. As much as I love teaching, I love the chance to perform.
"That's how the Landau thing came up. Jeff called and said they were doing this tour in December and needed me to play vibes, congas, accessory percussion, stuff I've done since college.
"We played 16 shows. Landau and I crossed paths in Logan but didn't know each other. His attorney, Bob Noone, has a band and I played with him.
"Landau won a talent thing at an arts and crafts fair every year in the gym right next to my room. I did sound for it. He had his head shaved then. He killed it every year. Finally, they gave him an obnoxiously big trophy and told him he couldn't compete anymore.
"I think I have grown up. I've learned to take whatever comes. I remember bidding on jobs and thinking, 'If I don't get this, I don't know what I'm going to do.' Then I'd look back and think, 'I'm so glad I didn't get that job.'
"Will I teach my entire career? I don't know. But I always want to do music in some fashion. I would love to go off and entertain if I were a single guy just doing my thing. But I have two boys, 6 and 3. As much as I love performing, I love coming home.
"I love politics and I love business. I've thought about running for office. Who knows what will happen? I can't complain so far. Things have gone well."Reach Sandy Wells at san...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5173.