Throughout my life, I have been very fortunate in the fact that I have been able to collaborate and grow with many musicians. Music has helped me through several major changes in my life, given me friends that I am forever grateful for, and has shown me what it takes to be a spectacular leader.
During my high school career, I was given several opportunities to attend band camps and other related activities at Louisiana State University. One of the people I had met at my first camp was Cliff Croomes. At the time, he was a graduate assistant that encouraged me to work my hardest and helped me grow musically in ways that I had never been faced with. Watching his face light up while assisting others and working countless hours to inspire a new generation of musicians has completely transformed how I saw this form of art. Cliff has improved my understanding of music and created a comfortable learning environment for me when I needed it most. Moving back to the Louisiana after living in Canada for three years was a difficult move for me. I consistently felt like I was not as talented as my fellow trombonists and baritonists around me and I would never catch back up with them after being in a very laid-back musical environment for the past few years.
Since meeting Cliff, I have caught up musically and have become an exceptional low-brass musician. He helped me feel like “part of the gang”, which can be difficult to find as a woman in a particularly male-dominated section of a band. I have several memories of working with him on specific parts of a musical piece and receiving constructive criticism from him, playing through the difficult parts again and again until it sounded amazing. Once we were done practicing for the day, he would then go on to study for his doctorate classes, practice his skills, and prepare for the next day with a smile on his face, never seeming fazed by his challenging schedule.
Now, five years later, I am proud to say I have become a part of Louisiana State University’s Golden Band from Tigerland and have the privilege to regularly work with Cliff, who is better known as Dr. Croomes now. He works with the band every day and inspires students to become influential leaders. With LSU having Dr. Croomes as an Assistant Director for the band and Dr. Kelvin Jones, another African American, as the Associate Director of Bands, it is truly an exciting time to be a part of this program. I am constantly being pushed and learning new ways to produce a great sound from them, and I cannot thank Dr. Cliff Croomes enough for being one of the leaders that has shaped me into the person I am today. To have an African American role model as wonderful as him is something I have never expected to write about, but truly is an honor.