On the Saturday preceding my first day of high school, I was the recipient of a tremendous gift. It was Saturday, August 24, 1974, my first trumpet lesson with world-renowned brass instructor, Mark McDunn. Studying with Mr. McDunn from my freshman year of high school through college proved to be the impetus for my career as a professional musician.
Mark McDunn’s studio was in Oak Park, Illinois, 70 miles from my home in Momence. That would be a huge problem — were it not for the generosity of fourth grade teacher, Charles Danish. Mr. Danish, who studied with Mr. McDunn in high school, introduced me to him and drove me to Oak Park every Saturday for four years.
Mr. Danish was the consummate teacher. He expertly fashioned life experiences into teaching moments. During each of our weekly three-hour drives I learned all there was to know about high-end stereo equipment, luxury automobiles, classical music, how to establish good credit, 'creative' early childhood education and of course, BASEBALL.
Mr. Danish unselfishly gave of his time and resources giving me a foundation in which my career as a musician and educator was built. He never took a dime in return, even though I repeatedly tried to repay him for his generosity. His words will forever echo in my heart:
“If ever, you had a chance, and you saw a young kid who was talented and really wanted to play, and was serious about it, that you would attempt to do for him, what I attempted to do for you, and you’d pay me back.”
I will Chuck. I promise...
Artistic Director, Chicago Jazz Philharmonic
Please donate generously to The Charles W. Danish Scholarship for Musical Excellence.
100% of funds will be used to provide mentoring and private music lessons for students that show exceptional talent, promise, and dedication in their craft.
Make checks payable to "Chicago Jazz Philharmonic" and reference "Charles Danish Scholarship Fund" in the MEMO line. Mail to: Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, P.O. Box 805330, Chicago, IL 60680-5330. Otherwise, donate online here.