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Rodney Scott Pierson

Rodney Scott Pierson A Mother's Remembrance Scott died of depression resulting in his taking his own life on February 26, 2013. He is survived by his mother, Cozette Pierson; his 2 beloved sons, Zachary and Kristopher; cousins, Pat and Mark VanBergh of Texas; his aunt, Elisabeth Jenkins of Tacoma, WA and various uncles, aunts, cousins in SW Iowa, NW Missouri and Scottsdale, AZ. He also left so very many loving former students from Aberdeen and Olympia. Scott was born November 4, 1965, in Clarinda, Iowa, to Cozette and Howard Pierson. Scott moved to Texas in 1969 with Cozette until they moved to Washington in 1979, where he began his freshman year at Sammamish High School, in Bellevue, and benefitted from the mentorship of WMEA Hall of Fame band director Gary Walker. Scott attended the University of Puget Sound, graduating in 1988 with a Bachelor's in Music Education. While at U.P.S., Scott played in the Jazz Ensemble, the Wind Ensemble, the Symphony Orchestra, and the Red-Tie Brass Quintet. He studied trumpet with Charles Butler, former principal trumpet of the Seattle Symphony, conducting with the incomparable Robert Musser, and student-taught with Jack Lloyd at Stadium High School. His senior year, he collaborated with Dr. Bloch, a professor at U.P.S., and edited his Musical Theater text, published in 1988, which was a huge honor for an undergraduate. Scott completed an internship at Olympia High School with Dick Allen, and received his Masters in Administration through Seattle Pacific University, graduating in 2002. Scott began his teaching career in Kalama, staying from 1989- 1992. He moved from there to Aberdeen, teaching from 1992-2001, and thereafter moved to Olympia Schools in 2001. While at Olympia High School, Scott directed musicals, the symphonic band and wind ensemble, the jazz band, the marching band, and the pep band. Scott took-on the senior project development and organization at Olympia High School, referred to as the 'culminating project,' and helped to provide organization with the development of rubrics and procedures. The Olympia High School Wind Ensemble was selected to perform at Northwest MENC/ and All-state conferences several times, most notably within a year of Scott coming to Olympia High School. Scott would lead an annual trip to Seaside, Oregon with the Olympia marching band. During their trip they would gather together in a park, bring out their instruments, and read-through music. Once thoroughly prepared, they would begin a spontaneous parade marching right down the main drag in Seaside. This was one of Scott's favorite events of the year. Scott encouraged great camaraderie with Capitol and Olympia High School bands. Members of both bands would traditionally march with each other at the annual big game (called the Spaghetti Bowl). Capitol High School band director Dan Lundberg believes the only other schools in the state which maintain band collaboration for the annual big game are Aberdeen and Hoquiam high schools. It's no coincidence that Scott taught at both... While at Aberdeen High School, Scott directed the jazz ensemble, marching band, pep band, gold band, blue band, symphonic band, and the Orchestra. His award-winning Aberdeen High School jazz ensemble was selected to perform twice on the evening program at the University of Oregon Jazz Celebration, competing against much larger schools from Oregon and Washington. Traditions at schools and communities, in particular Aberdeen, are important, and Scott was well aware of this fact. His marching band would regularly march throughout the community, often times leading a trail of young children, wagons, and cars. The marching band maintained a tradition of marching-up one of the steepest hills in Grays Harbor County, Scammel Hill, while playing the Fight Song at 180 beats per minute. It was a rite of passage to be able to say you marched up Scammel playing the fight song, keeping in step and in tempo. He played Santa each December, filling student stockings hung throughout the band room. He encouraged 'Moxie' in his students. Moxie is the "inherent talent to face-down one's challenges and overcome obstacles with spirited fervor," and it is also a carbonated beverage first introduced in 1876... Scott encouraged both! A mother of an Aberdeen band alumni mentioned that "Scott kept a lot of kids in school." Scott knew who needed to be talked to, had a gentle yet direct manner for speaking to kids who were having difficulties at home or at school, and encouraged them to stay in school and graduate. He encouraged values of hard work and promptness with his mantra 'to be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late, and to be late is to be in BIG trouble!' Scott was proud to be asked to conduct the pit orchestra for the Pat Wilhelms tribute at Aberdeen High School last spring. He greatly enjoyed seeing all of his past students, and surprising his dear friend and former colleague Pat. Scott saved the Orchestra program at A.H.S. The Aberdeen High School orchestra is the last string program left in Grays Harbor and Pacific Counties. When budget cuts were introduced and plans were made to cut the string program, Scott fought to maintain its presence. He passionately stood-up for the program as important to the overall music program, and fiercely held-up the small number of students in the program as vital to the culture and society at A.H.S. He was successful, and under their current director, Karen Meikle, the program thrives, performing throughout Washington and Canada. Scott was keenly aware he had followed the tradition of two notable and longstanding band directors in Western Washington: Aberdeen's Hampton Wines, and Olympia's Wayne Timmerman. Scott served as president of our local region for the Washington Music Educators Association, and continued on as Web Site coordinator, where he kept his music colleagues updated on music events in the region, and uploaded the latest photos of his boys. Scott adjudicated multiple band and solo/ensemble festivals, and recently chaperoned a tour in Europe with Mark Lane and Central Washington University faculty, accompanying high school band members representing the State of Washington. Scott played trumpet in the Grays Harbor Symphony, Olympia Symphony, Tacoma Concert Band, and subbed with multiple ensembles throughout Washington and Oregon. Scott loved all-things Disney. When visiting Disneyland, he knew many unique aspects, as he had researched clubs in the park with private entrances, special balconies to book for enjoying fine dessert while viewing fireworks, and the best place and times for character visits. Watching Scott direct was a treat. He had incredibly fine technique, musicianship, and passion. Watching Scott with his boys was special. To say Scott was a proud Papa is an understatement. He loved children, and longed for time with his boys. Scott has been described as having a 'magic shoulder,' able to quiet and calm even the fussiest of children (and band students for that matter). Scott was able to discuss music not just in raw terms, but in deeper layers and with more complexity than most musicians. He not only was aware of the leitmotifs used in the Ring Cycle, but knew when and how they transformed throughout each of the operas in the cycle. He could discuss the merits and compare the brass sections of the major symphonies in the U.S. and abroad, and discern the best recordings for the major conductors of our era, detailing the subtleties when Solti recorded with Chicago or with the London Symphony Orchestras. In listening to film scores, he would share in-depth analysis of Hans Zimmer, Danny Elfman, and John Williams' incredible music scores. Scott had a deep and profound thirst for knowledge when it came to music. Scott gave great advice regarding music selection. You see, we are overwhelmed with music to perform with our bands. Classics, hits, editor's choices, festival favorites, patriotic selections, popular arrangements, state band lists, audience favorites, and the like. Scott helped sort through the forest to see the works which would impact students the most. His bands never played anything just because, rather, the music was selected for its value, to make a section stronger, or to show-off a section or soloist. Scott could live on pastry, Diet-coke, and Dan Lundberg's girls scout cookies! When in France on a Tacoma Concert Band trip in 2007, Scott would travel with our small group as we explored villages and port towns. At times we would lose Scott, and begin a search for his whereabouts. We usually looked for him at bakeries or a small café, as he had only learned the French words for Je voudrai (I would like), and then food names, notably pastry. One evening for dinner he sat down in a restaurant and ordered like a local, "Je voudrai confit de canard," impressing everybody at the table. It wasn't until after the waiter had left that he let out a huge laugh and told us he had no idea what he had just ordered. When it was delivered it was obviously a local delicacy. Scott's former students truly made him proud. Scott kept in contact with hundreds them maintaining relationships through social media and through work. He often spoke of their accomplishments, their successes in music and in life, and of the type of young women and men they have become. Scott's death has hit them hard, as it has hit his family and colleagues. In education we often talk about a "teachable moment." Music is one of the deepest forms of human communication. I believe through musical relationships life becomes richer. Your relationship with Scott, whether as a teacher, mentor, father-figure, or colleague, can lead you to richer relationships with others in your life. Let us take this moment to cultivate a thirst for knowledge, express to your closest friends how much they mean to you, listen and contribute to the arts, laugh, develop a magic shoulder. steal a girl scout cookie from Lundberg, and share a pastry. That will serve as an eternal memorial of Scott. Scott's sons, Zachary and Kristopher request that those wishing to remember Scott do so by making a donation to The Prevention of Suicide.


Published in The Olympian on July 14, 2013
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