Wayne Muller began his teaching career on a rather strange note. Having been encouraged by a former high school band director to apply in Amarillo, he marched into the superintendent’s office and announced that he had come to apply for the band and orchestra director job. The superintendent informed Wayne that he was not aware of such an opening, but allowed him to complete an application “just in case.” As the school year ended and he was graduating from college, he was notified that he had a job in Amarillo.
His first year of teaching was orchestra, all 18 students, in the Sam Houston Junior High School. During the year, the band director resigned, and Wayne received the additional assignment of band director which fulfilled his goal to be a band director. Having taken over the band in February, Wayne took them to the regional contest where they received a third division. He was pretty miffed by this rating and set as a goal to equal those fine junior high bands of Lubbock and Odessa who had directors such as Gary Garner, Ted Crager, J. R. McEntyre, Bill Dean and others.
Actually, Wayne expected a fat salary increase due to his increased duties, but was rather dismayed when he received a contract with the usual annual increment of $75. A game of cat and mouse ensued until the board acquiesced to Muller’s request, and the front page story of the Globe-Times newspaper began with a phrase such as “seems band directors are hard to get.”
Wayne spent some eight years as the junior high band and orchestra director and was promoted to Amarillo High School when Charlie Emmons went to the University of Missouri. His goal remained to stay with the band students whom he had taught in junior high who were now in Amarillo High but would eventually go to Tascosa High once it was completed. The Sandie Band was a unique group and made a great impression wherever they went. Frank Piersall said, “This is one of the finest if not the finest, high school band in America.” Bill Rhodes said, “This is the best high school band I have heard in the last fifteen years.”
During most of Wayne’s tenure in Amarillo, he spent summers working at the National Music Camp as Director of Talent Exploration and as a member of the conducting staff. Upon return home one summer, he was contacted by D. O. Wiley who informed him that the Sandie Band had been selected as the first Honor Band for the state convention. Because this information came so late during the summer, the school board did not allow the band to attend the Texas convention. This was probably a wise decision as Tascosa High School was opening, and it would have been only fair and necessary to field a composite group from both schools.
The Tascosa band became a fine group almost immediately, and the Sandie Band never missed a step. There was a wealth of talent among those two schools. In fact, the Tascosa groups, band and orchestra, did so well their first year that the high school annual was dedicated to them.
These two bands added to Wayne’s stature during the years. The Sandie Band had been selected to receive the dedication page of the First Chair of America; the Tascosa Band excelled and gave Wayne the honor of being selected as a finalist for the Mac Award which was given at the Blue-Gray football game. Then, came an invitation to be band director at the Del Mar College in Corpus Christi. Following one year at Del Mar, Wayne was asked to return to Amarillo High.
Muller’s later appointment to Oklahoma State University was as orchestra conductor, and because he missed band directing, the department head assigned Wayne to help with the marching band. As things worked out he gave up the additional assignment and his work at the National Music Camp to concentrate on the university’s music extension courses which eventually grew into a year-round project.
During Wayne’s first year of teaching he married Patsy Rosenaur whom he met in college during the Varsity Review. They grew as a family and their five children have given them the privilege of having four grandchildren with two more on the way. The eldest, Sara, and husband David live in Stillwater; the youngest, John, lives in Stillwater. The others live in Texas. Robert and wife, Donna, live in Van Alstyne; Joe and wife, Julie, live in Plano, and Elizabeth and husband, Martyn, live in Austin.
Wayne states that, “To direct band was a joy and challenge that only we band directors can understand and appreciate. The band is a unique instrument, and no other entity can duplicate it.” Among his memories of interest are the funny things that happened along the way. These happenings always had a humorous twist, but seemed to float around somewhere between the funny and the bizarre. They range from twirlers who deflated his car tires; a drum major in a cast the day before marching contest; a loading crew who stole the Amarillo High victory bell; and a student who tossed his new watch in the pool after a successful contest performance. Shortly thereafter, Wayne followed the watch into the pool.
Today, Wayne is glad he didn’t resign and go into the filling station business after that first band contest. He is thankful for the opportunity of meeting the great people whom he has known in the field of music. They were a great influence, and he hopes that in some small way, he has returned the favor.