Posted by: Michelle Knoll | January 17, 2011

A Living Legacy

If I could speak to the entire corps of people who have been impacted by the life of just one man, Dr. Wayne F. Pegram, I would share the following:

You are his legacy.  As it was said of Mr. Holland, you are “the melodies and the notes of (Dr. Pegram’s) opus.”  You are… his “grand performance.”

He wrote each arrangement and every marching drill, envisioning how you would make it happen, how you would make it shine, how you would create the magic of the moment.  There wasn’t a day that you weren’t on his mind, every year, every band, every show, every number, every downbeat… you were the drum beats and the footsteps that pulsed through his very bloodstream.  You were the drums, the horns, the woodwinds, the flags, the rifles, the batons, the uniforms, and the faces, that filled his dreams.  You were the tuxes, the stages, the curtains, the pizzaz, the improvisation that filled his thoughts throughout his days.  You were the scores and scores… of music scores… that filled his desk.  You made his life upbeat with every downbeat, and you added the syncopation to his rhythm.

You were the parades and halftimes and homecomings of his autumns, the formal dress and curtains and stages of his winters, the band camps and community concerts of his summers, and the year-round big band jazz of his life.

YOU were the reasons he carried a black felt tip pen and a red felt tip pen.

Dr. Pegram would toss off any praise about himself, and say, “Eh, I was just a drop in a bucket.”  But that one drop has sent out ripples and ripples through the water, creating waves of music that have vibrated for decades.  From his bands, to his band members’ bands, his love of music and passion for performance have been passed to whole new generations.

You filled his life with the joy of music, sweet and clear and strong, played with precision and executed with excellence.  You were the river through which his passion flowed, watering everything it touched with the beauty of creativity.

You were his grand performance.

For some of you, the echoes of his music reverberate strongly through the halls of your memories.  And you continue in the river’s flow, creating ripples and waves of your own, that will continue for years to come.

For some of you, the ripples and waves have ebbed over time, and though the current doesn’t move as swiftly, it still runs, deep within the recesses of your souls.  You still hear the echoes of his music, though soft and sometimes almost faded to silence, as you’ve moved on to other rivers, adding the flavor of his river to these new ones.

And still for some of you, the ripples and waves have washed to the shore, and you find yourself no longer in the current.  And possibly you wonder if the river has run dry within you.  And to you I would say, whether you’ve dropped your drumsticks or laid down your baton, whether you’ve put away your mouthpiece or you can’t find your reed, whether you’ve lost your pen or whether you can’t find a piece of sheet music anywhere…

Listen closely within.  The music is still there. It never left; it never died.  Though years and miles and changes in season have seemingly taken you from the river, it still runs within you.  Coursing through your soul.  Pulsing in your heart.  Echoing in the hallways of your memories.

And it still flows today.

You were his grand performance then, each one of you, singly and collectively, as you stepped onto the field, as you stepped onto the stage, and even as you stepped into the classroom, to partake of his knowledge, his wit, and his music.

You extended that grand performance as you stepped out into the world, taking the power of that river’s flow into other areas that needed watering.

You are his grand performance today, whether or not you teach music in school, or in church, or even in your own home.  Whether or not you still play an instrument, sing, compose, arrange, or direct.  The river is there, deep within you.  And because this river has touched your life, and you flowed in this river — even if only for a brief moment — it will flow from you into others.  It HAS flowed into others.  And his legacy… lives on.

So, musicians, while there is still breath in your lungs, strength in your bodies, and passion in your souls, realize who you are.

You were his grand performance then, each time you responded to his baton.  You shrank from the fire in his eyes when you missed a note; you reveled in the pride on his face when you performed well.

You ARE his grand performance now, each time you face life with the same fervor.  You live your life, applying in different ways his wit and wisdom, knowing that his story wasn’t The Grand Story that runs through all of time, but it was certainly part of that grand story.  And you are part of his story.  And he is part of yours.

Carry in your hearts the river that flowed through his.  Never forget the echoes of his music.  Always remember who you are.  Make him proud.

You are his Grand Performance.



  1. Beautiful tribute. Thank you for putting words to the enormity of the loss of him that we all feel right now, and are reeling from. Your words say what ours cannot, and put it all into perspective.

    • Thanks, Mendy. I am honored and humbled by your words. I only wish that I had stayed in the music department, so I would know him like you all did. But I am thankful for the little bit that I do know of him. He was a great man. And you all are great, too.

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