My name is Jess Thompson.  I’m a former student of Dr. Dennis Hayslett.  Several of us who are former students are putting together this “tribute” website for him.

As you may know, Dr. Hayslett has had a huge impact upon our lives, and many of us who value what we learned from him would like to honor him in some small way.

We are also hoping that if he gets a chance to see this, his life will be brightened a little bit, especially after all he’s done for US as a teacher!  We think that the positive energy is long overdue for such an accomplished individual who has done so much for us!

If you are one of his students and would like to post a favorite memory from your time with this life-changing teacher, please email me here and I’ll post it for you!

Feel free to post one of his “famous” sayings, a favorite quote, a “Thank You,” or a story that comes to mind that made an impression upon your life in some way.  Also welcome are any amusing incidents that you would like to share or something special you know about “DH.”

Lots of people have already forwarded stories to us that we have posted for them.  Let’s keep it going!  Go to the "Post a Tribute or Quote" link and add your remembrances, thanks, or stories.

I still remember this from more than 25 years ago ... “Quality Endures”
- Jennifer M.

Remember his “Five P’s?” - Perfect Preparation Prevents Poor Performance!
- Amy T.

"Failing to prepare is preparing to fail" ... (how many times have I repeated this quote to myself?)
- Jeff N.

I always felt like he was just BORN to teach.  I never sat down with him for even a casual conversation where I didn’t come away having learned something new, whether it was some little-known fact about Percy Grainger’s music (NOBODY knows more about Percy Grainger!), or Beethoven, or how the venturi effect works inside of a trombone mouthpiece, or the training methods used to run a marathon, or how to catch and release a trout without injuring it.  He taught me some pretty neat card tricks, too!
- Jessica L.

“If you’re on time, YOU’RE LATE!"  He even put it in our band handbook — I still remember it from nearly 30 years ago!
- Jamie McD.

True story ...  I entered graduate school as a single mother on financial aid.  I put in an application to work for Dr. Hayslett, and after interviewing me he hired me to work in the university band department as a music librarian.  I was thrilled!  He put me through a rigorous training session so I knew exactly what to do.  He was always insistent that everything be done correctly, so one of his famous quotes that I always remember is, “If you don’t have time to do it right the first time, when are you going to find time to do it over?”  As long as I got my work done, he was always very flexible with my hours, so that I could be home to take care of my son.  At one point, both my son and I had the flu and couldn’t leave the house, so he arranged for some chicken soup and other groceries to be dropped off by another one of his grad assistants.  When she delivered the food, I mentioned to her that the front door lock on my apartment was broken.  Within an hour, Dr. H showed up with a drill and tools, took the door off the hinges and fixed my broken door lock.  While I was changing my son’s diaper in the next room, he shouted “All done! Bye!”  And he was gone – he refused to accept a penny!  As strict and tough as he is, you couldn’t find a sweeter, more caring person anywhere!
- Monica C.

The biggest quote that I remember from him was always: “RESULTS, NOT EXCUSES!”
-Felicia M.

After a bad audition when I lost it and started to cry, I remember him pulling me aside, handing me a tissue, and saying, “The will to succeed isn’t worth anything without the will to PREPARE!”  He knew that I was upset, but he also knew that I wasn’t as prepared as I COULD have been.  He was always compassionate to a fault, but he never minced words.  If you deserved a pat on the back, you got it ... but if you deserved a kick in the pants, he wasn’t afraid to give that to you too!  I think about how that inspired me to walk into the NEXT audition fully prepared!
- Jennifer S.

We heard him say this a lot, “How is encouraging and accepting mediocrity going to make the world a better place?  Mediocrity is what’s WRONG with the world today!”  ... I also remember him saying, "At the end of your life, are you going to look back at your choices and say, 'Wow, I am SO glad I just did the minimum amount I could to get by ... ?' "
 Anytime things get tough in my life, I can still hear him saying those things.
- Bill D.

I had heard all of the “Hayslett stories” before I came to play in his band.  When I first met him, I sort of felt like he was this legend carved out of granite.  I was really afraid of him, but it didn’t take long to realize that he REALLY cared.  I had never had a teacher who pushed me HARD because he cared about me and didn’t want me to squander my potential.  I will always be grateful to him for that!
- David L.

Once, I made the mistake of complaining to him about all the work I had to do before finals.  I had a project due, two big papers to do, etc., etc., and I was just freaking out!  He sat me down in his office and sternly said, “If it was easy, ANYONE could do it!”  After that, he patiently helped me outline an organized step-by-step plan to get everything done.  Then he sent me out with his standard, “Now, get to work!”  And you know what?  I buckled down, followed the plan & got everything finished in time!  It definitely was NOT easy, but I always remember that saying — “If it was easy, ANYONE could do it!”  Thanks, Dr. Hayslett!
- Linda S.

Okay, we’re talking about a really important person here, right?  I mean, he’s freakin’ FAMOUS, for crying out loud!  He’s won big-time awards!  Myself, I could only DREAM of someday being presented with the Stanbury Award, or the Disney Foundation Award, or the NBA Citation of Excellence!  And, beyond all that, he’s conducted all over the world!  And ... presented clinics everywhere!  And ... he’s played with Izthaak Perlman, and Yo Yo Ma, and James Galway, and Dionne Warwick, and Stan Kenton, and even Kansas!  And ... he serves on major Boards and Committees, and ... EVERYBODY knows him!  I could go on and on, but you get the point.  BUT, when he walks into a room, you NEVER get the sense of him coming through the door and projecting the attitude of ‘Well, here I am!’  Instead, he looks humbly at you and you get the overwhelming sense that he’s thinking, ‘Ah, there you are!’  Somehow his unselfishness and caring attitude have always made ME feel more important than him!  Case in point — About five years ago, I came up to him at the I.M.E.A. Conference just to shake his hand after a fabulous concert that he had just conducted.  All kinds of Big-Shots were standing in line to congratulate him and pat him on the back, but he pulled ME aside and asked me to tell him how my teaching job was going, how my family was, how my kids were doing, etc.  He makes you feel like you’re the most important person in the room.  And do you know WHY?  Because to HIM, you really ARE the most important person in the room.  It’s not an act!  His caring for people always knocks me for a loop!
- Richard L.

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Dr. Hayslett chillin' (and writing) in the mountains.
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