Jack Misner is the kind of guy that one only needs to be around for a few minutes before you realize he is a real positive force of nature. He loves to meet new people and it doesn’t take long before he considers you a friend. Speaking of friends of Jack’s – he has been a true friend to his trumpet for a long, long time!
“My first musical performance was buzzing my lips to produce a musical tone on a bugle,” Misner recalled. “That was 57 years ago and the memory remains clear to me.”
That first musical buzz happened when Jack was eight years old. He has never stopped making musical tones and sharing his love of them with people of all ages. His parents made music mandatory, but they were surprised at how hard Jack worked at it. The work paid off: Jack admitted that he cannot imagine life without music.
“I had no other confidence as a kid,” was how Misner put it.
A look at his accomplishments with bugle and trumpet certainly bear witness to a confidence inspiring path. He was part of The Green Hornets, a competitive drum and bugle corps for a decade. During that time they won three state championships and Jack took home a personal championship. He received nine years of music instruction in school and earned a Bachelor of Science with music major. His resume is graced with seven years of service in the 126th Army Band – five of those years as the Principal Trumpet.
Jack passed his love of music to others with more than two decades as a public school teacher – leading bands, choirs, and orchestras at the middle school, high school and college level. He gigged on week-ends for a decade with a rock n roll band.
“The US public education system is unique,” Misner contends. “All levels of society working together for the common good. Public school music education programs are the quintessential application of that premise.” (Preach it Jack!)
Two corners of his business card contain a couple of nick names that go a long way in explaining the gigs that put Jack Misner in front of a lot of sports fans in Michigan. The upper left corner reads “Backstop Jack” and the upper right has him as “Slapshot Jack”. Say what? In 1995 Jack was invited to blow the National Anthem for the West Michigan Whitecaps – a Class A baseball team that feeds into the Detroit Tigers from their stadium in Comstock Park, a suburb of Grand Rapids, MI. That first performance turned into a 19 year relationship with the Whitecaps. In 2006 the Whitecaps made him a regular part of their award winning promotions team and he worked his magic for over a million and a half fans for the following eight seasons. When he started playing on a regular basis for week-end games Jack had about 12 songs that “fit” with a baseball game. By the time he played for his last game he had over 100 tunes that he would masterfully work into virtually any scenario that might happen on the field. For example, if a pitcher made a mistake on the mound the fans would be treated to the notes of “Fool on the Hill.” Let someone in the field commit an error and the crowd would hear “If I Only Had a Brain” from the Wizard of Oz.
“I had to figure out ways to make it fun, to make fun of the other team, but always in good taste,” Misner said.
There is a nice little tie-in with our fearless leader Todd – Jack has seen his son Rex Rundgren play ball when Rex’s team played the Whitecaps.
In April of 2000, Backstop Jack was given the honor to christen Comerica Park, the new home of the Detroit Tigers, by being the first trumpeter to play the National Anthem in the new stadium. He considers standing next to catcher Pudge Rodriquez along with his son Patrick one of the shining examples of the power of music in his life.
Those of you who solve puzzles have probably figured out that the moniker “Slapshot Jack” came about when Misner worked his brass magic for a hockey team: The Grand Rapids Griffins – the AHL team affiliated with the Detroit Red Wings.
As much fun as Jack had playing the horn for well over a million and a half fans, his true impact on Michigan and beyond will be felt for decades because of the time he spent transferring his love of music to students for more than 20 years.
According to Misner, the impact of music education on his own life falls under the category “Everything”. He went on to explain that includes organizational skills, working together with others, taking responsibility, and caring. Jack cited “feeling, caring, and empathy” as being the best aspect of music and musical education in his life. We couldn’t agree more.
Cliff Yankovich is a partner with his wife Julie Claire DeVoe at Chimera Design, a jewelry store in Lowell, Michigan since 2002 (www.ChimeraDesign.ws). A Todd Rundgren fan since 1972, Cliff is thrilled to be a part of the Spirit of Harmony Foundation. His observations and opinions can be found on his blog: www.cliffsriffs.blogspot.com.