Leland Sharrock was born on June 15, 1943, to Thurmon and Pearl Sharrock. He was the oldest of five children and was raised on a farm in Broken Bow, Oklahoma. He remembers the floors being so cold that his goal in life was to live in a house with carpet. He still remembers the musty smelling case of the Eb mellowphone Mr. Car, the band director, suggested he play. The next band director, Mr. White, had everyone in the band marching six to five and playing every march known to man. Have you ever heard a seventh grade horn student playing after beats while marching six to five? It wasn’t pretty. Lessons were one dollar per hour, which Leland couldn’t afford, so Mr. White let him clean the band hall to pay for them. Mr. White’s wife gave him horn lessons. Another source of inspiration was a recording he listened to daily of James Chambers, (first chair horn player in the New York Philharmonic). Solos had to be memorized, so Leland started practicing two hours a day in order to earn his first divisions all four years at the state competitions. He also was in the Oklahoma All State Band two years and received the John Phillip Sousa Award for being the Outstanding Senior.
Mr. White helped him attain a full music scholarship to Oklahoma State University where he studied horn with his band director, Hiram Henry. Playing first horn in the Oklahoma State Band and Orchestra for three years gave Leland the confidence he would need later in his playing and teaching career. During his junior and senior years, he was president of the orchestra, president of the band and president of Alpha Chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi. Alpha Chapter was chosen as the outstanding chapter in the nation that year. Mr. Henry asked Leland to be the soloist on the spring tour. He received his Bachelor of Music Education degree from OSU in 1965.
Leland’s love for playing the horn led him to Indiana University after hearing Mr. Phillip Farkas, the great horn player of the Chicago Symphony, perform at a horn clinic. That day changed Leland’s life. His introduction to the IU brass faculty didn’t go so well, however. Leland didn’t own a horn, so he borrowed one from the university. He hadn’t practiced much that summer because of long hours working construction. After he performed his first etude, he apologized for the mistakes and stated he wasn’t comfortable with the Holton horn. After the second etude, he again apologized for missed notes, stating the mouthpiece felt strange. The assistant horn teacher almost fell out of his chair exclaiming, “Don’t tell me you don’t have your own mouthpiece!” A Conn 2 mouthpiece was purchased the next day. Many of the horn players made fun of his mouthpiece. The audition must not have gone too badly, however, because the next week Leland was sitting first chair in one of the orchestras proudly holding up his Conn 2 mouthpiece and stating to the other horn players, “Conn 2 boys”. While attending IU, he performed several times with the Evansville Symphony, performed his first opera and grew immensely as a musician. He received his Masters of Music degree in 1967.
The Vietnam War was going strong in 1967 and Mr. Farkas was called about a horn opening in the NORAD Band, a military band in Colorado Springs. Leland made a tape, was accepted and enlisted in the Army that spring. During basic training, the drill sergeants reminded them daily that they were going to Vietnam to die. “No Sir, I’m going to Colorado to play in a band,” Leland said. The sergeants didn’t appreciate his humor. For three years, he performed with incredible musicians and traveled throughout the US, Canada and Iceland. At their first concert in Iceland, the band was bombarded with eggs by a small group of Communists. After the police removed the offenders from the hall, the band returned to play the finale to Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony. The audience went crazy. “I will never forget that performance,” he says. He can now honestly say he’s had eggs thrown at him while performing. Leland was also performing with the Colorado Springs Symphony and the Opera Orchestra while serving in the NORAD Band. He married Judy in 1970 and they headed to San Antonio where Leland had accepted a position with the San Antonio Symphony.
For the next three years, he had the privilege of performing with many outstanding musicians, soloists, opera singers and ballet dancers. Throughout his career, Leland was a successful horn teacher with many horn students making the All State groups. Because of this success, he was asked to teach horn for Our Lady of the Lake University, St. Mary’s University and University of Texas at San Antonio.
From 1973 until 2003, Leland taught at five high schools: Churchill, Roosevelt, MacArthur, Temple and William Howard Taft. His bands received straight first divisions in marching and concert during all those years except for two years at Temple where he made wrong choices in his UIL program. Only one judge ever gave his marching band a two. His first job was at Churchill High School as the assistant to Tony Esquivel. They became great friends and had a blast. Churchill placed third in the Honor Band competition and won many marching band competitions and festivals. In 1976, Al Sturchio, fine arts director, asked Leland to apply for the Roosevelt head director’s position. Leland and David Brown directed the Roosevelt Rough Riders to seventh place in the Honor Band competition, won all the trophies in Florida, received first divisions at major competitions in Texas, made a movie with Jackie Chang called “Big Brawl” and received $1000 for winning the Parade of Champions marching competition in Dallas. Leland was having the time of his life, but teaching 25 horn students after school, conducting the Northeast ISD Honor Orchestra, performing with the symphony and playing shows with Holiday on Ice, Sony & Cher, Isaac Hayes, Lena Horne, Andy Williams and Henry Mancini took its toll. He burned out. Like many band directors before him, he became a salesman with Prinston Industries for five years. He doubled his income, but he wasn’t happy. JUDY WAS HAPPY ! In the fall of 1984, Bill Brady, band director at MacArthur High School, passed away from a heart attack and Leland was asked help them through the rest of the year. The band had already won the state marching contest in 1984. Out of respect and love for Mr. Brady, they won the state marching contest again in 1985. In 1986, Leland followed David Pennington as the head director for the Temple Wildcat Band. With the excellent help of Mark Nalley, Mike Ouelette, Wayne Klingsporn and Tim Taylor, they competed twice at the Parade of Champions marching competition in Dallas, placing second both times. They took on the big boys at the BOA competitions in Dallas and Houston, making the top ten several times and came away a much better band. The Temple Band missed going to the state marching contest twice by one band. During this time, Leland was the Region VIII chairman, served on UIL music committees, judged at the state UIL solo & ensemble contest, judged the All State horn auditions and was a judge for marching and concert contests around the state. He became the Fine Arts Coordinator in 1994, but two years later that position was eliminated due to a three million dollar cut in the district’s budget. Leland needed a job and William Howard Taft High School in San Antonio needed an assistant. The next three years, he worked with Ben Chasen in developing the Taft Band into a competitive band. The band went to the state marching contest in 1998, and when Ben retired, Leland with his assistants Alfred Esquivel, Danny Solis and Brian Solis took the band to the state marching contest again in 2000. The Taft Band attended many festivals earning first divisions, won the Rough Rider and Rocket Review marching contests, was a feature band at the Battle of Bands, chosen best band in the Fiesta Parade, and for many years was the only 5A band in Northside ISD to have all three bands make a sweepstakes. During this time, Leland was president of TMAA, wrote articles for the Leaguer, the Southwestern Musician, gave clinics at TBA, judged the Triple C state Honor Band competition and the 3A state marching contest. In 2003 he was named Teacher of the Year for Taft High School. A year later, Leland taught for the University of Texas at San Antonio replacing a professor who had resigned.
Leland would like to thank the talented middle school directors and outstanding assistants who worked with him throughout his career. He is proud of the 30+ students who came through his programs and are now musicians or music directors. Many of you here today are his close friends, who helped him throughout his career. For those who judged his bands, thank you for the beneficial comments that helped make him a better teacher. Thanks to High School, H & H, Brook Mayes, and Holze music stores for the many years of great service. Thanks to Wayne Tucker at Southern Music and Tom Rhoads at RBC Music for their help in providing music for his bands. Thanks to his band students and incredible booster parents for their love, support and dedication. And last, but not least, he would like to thank his family for their understanding and support in allowing him to live his dream. Always supporting Leland and Judy are their children. Their daughter Jennifer, and her husband Jeff, have three sons, Joshua, Joel and John. Jennifer and family live in Kerrville and own their own business. Their son Justin is the soccer coach at McNeil High School in Round Rock ISD. His wife Brandi teaches 4th grade in Cedar Park ISD. They have a son named Daylan. Both Jennifer and Justin played in Leland’s band at Temple High School and also played in the UT Band. Judy retired in December from Northside ISD as a student testing specialist. After 30 years, Leland retired in 2003 and is now teaching 60 horn students in the San Antonio area. He and Judy plan to do some traveling in the future. If you happen to see an old man on a crotch rocket motorcycle running at 165 mph, it is probably Leland letting the wind run through his hair.