May 31, 2013 — Coral Gables — Although Whit Sidener is retiring this month from his day job as professor and chair of the Department of Studio Music and Jazz at the UM Frost School of Music, his zest for life, and playing and performing music, will still keep him busy. “I’m ready to retire…I thought I might be a rock star, but maybe if that doesn’t work out, I’ll become a DJ,” said Sidener with characteristic humor.
By the time Sidener began studying at UM in 1966 as a teenager out of high school he already had played his first gig and was on the road with the big bands of legends including Tommy Dorsey, Lionel Hampton, Glen Miller and Ray Charles to name a few.
As always, downplaying his own influence, multi-talented award-winning Sidener estimates Department of Studio Music and Jazz students were awarded around 200 Downbeat Awards, collectively, noting that “we kind of lost track.”
“During the time I’ve taught at UM we’ve had so many great students and they were really everybody’s students,” Sidener reflects. “If they’ve gone on to greatness the school deserves some credit, although the students really studied and practiced on the road to becoming professionally notable.”
Sidener recalls one of the highlights of his professional life was when he began teaching as an adjunct professor at UM in 1972. By 1975 he was on the full-time tenure track. He is the recipient of the International Association of Jazz Education (IAJE) Award for Outstanding Service to Jazz Education and the Phillip Frost Award for Excellence in Teaching and Scholarship. Under his direction the Frost Concert Jazz Band recorded five single and two double albums and four CDs, toured Europe, the Middle East, Central and South America and appeared at ten IAJE Conferences.
Sidener’s optimism keeps him going and his gives credit to the Frost School and his colleagues and their consistent approach to educating music students throughout the School’s history. He considers his legacy the experiences, playing and performing and teaching his students through the years. He also is open and always willing to share advice with aspiring young musicians to teach them how to succeed not only as artists, but in life.
The faculty, students and staff of the Frost School of Music extend their condolences to Professor Sidener on the April 15 passing of his wife, Rosann Sidener, B.M. '78, M.M. '87 at age 52 to cancer.
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