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Q&A with Yamaha Master Educator Larry Gookin

Yamaha Master Educator Larry Gookin shares his passion and inspiration for music.

Larry Gookin, Distinguished Professor and Emeritus Professor of music at Central Washington University, retired in 2015 after 34 years as the university’s Director of Bands.

He is the former principal trombone of the Eugene and Yakima Symphony Orchestras and is Emeritus Artistic Director and Conductor of the Seattle Wind Symphony. He is a Yamaha Master Educator


Q. Why is it important to protect access to music education?

A. There are many extrinsic reasons for providing quality music education. Music performance helps develop creativity, confidence, perseverance, accountability, dedication, leadership skills, physical coordination, auditory skills and spatial intelligence. However, the primary intrinsic purpose of music performance is to communicate emotions.

Q. What piece of music do you wish you had written and why?

A. “Adagio for Strings” by Samuel Barber is so heartfelt and one of my favorite compositions.

Q. Other than music, what brings you inspiration?

​A. Contemplative prayer and meditation.

Q. What is the most embarrassing moment of your life that you can share?

A. While in high school, I was playing the trombone solo to “Getting Sentimental Over You” with the jazz band, and I totally screwed it up. I asked the director if I could play it again. He turned to the audience and said that I would like to give it another try. The audience gave me a wonderful ovation for my eagerness to prove that I could do it. Unfortunately, it was much worse the second time!

Q. Which person from history, dead or alive, would you want to have lunch with and what would you discuss?

A. I would love to meet St. Francis of Assisi and talk about love.

Q. What is your biggest pet peeve?

A. My biggest pet peeve is that I don’t have a pet peeve.

Q. Why is music important to humanity?

A. Emotional expression is the paramount purpose of music. Humans have an innate desire and need to share emotions and feelings, and music provides this channel of communication.

Q. When did you know that you were going to make music the focus of your professional life?

A. When I was a junior in high school, I was asked to conduct a small ensemble in a musical. I was 16 years old and knew then that I wanted to become a music major in college.

Q. What book is on your nightstand right now?

A. “Into the Magic Shop” James R. Doty, M.D.

Q. What is your favorite guilty pleasure food?

A. Cheese (with a nice cabernet)!

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