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James Thomas Cain - Class of 2017

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Music, music, music. The Cain household was full of music. James' sisters sang duets while James listened to recordings of Rafael Mendez. He was hooked on music. Born in Rosenberg, Texas, on June 13, 1941, to Telford and Lucille Ball Cain, James was determined to play the trumpet. As a young boy, James' father asked him what he most liked about school. James
answered. "I like to play my trumpet."

James was privileged to start his band career in Plainview, Texas, with O.T. Ryan. It was in this band that James had his first taste of band leadership by serving as band president. James continued with another outstanding band director at Plainview High School, the wonderful Robert (Chief) Davidson. James was the trumpet section leader, band president and senior class Best All Around.

He spent his college years at The University of Texas at Austin. As part of his music education, he studied trumpet under Dr. J. Frank Elsass, who was a member of the Goldman Trumpet Trio. James also played in the UT Symphonic Band under Dr. Elsass and the Symphonic Orchestra under Dr. Fritz von Kreisler.

Another mentor for James was Vincent R. DiNino, director of the UT Longhorn Band. While in this band, James worked closely with Mr. DiNino as a section leader, member of the band council, Symphonic Wind Ensemble member and marching in the John F. Kennedy Inaugural Parade. As a section leader, his biggest challenge was teaching a new routine every week to the freshmen assigned to him . One of these girls would become his forever wife, Virlie Sayers Cain, and they have been married now for fifty-one years. He was a member of Kappa Kappa Psi and was recipient of the Outstanding Junior Award. To complete his formal education he was honored to be placed with an outstanding supervisory teacher, James Hejl.

While working his way through college, he was privileged to play his trumpet for such celebraties as Bob Hope, Carol Burnett, Henry Mancini and England’s Prince Charles.

Upon graduation, James began his career teaching beginners in an all seventh grade school in San Angelo, Texas. During his second year in San Angelo, he received a letter from his draft board in Plainview saying, "Uncle Sam wants you." Off he went to boot camp. The Army had in mind to send James to the Washington D. C. Band to a position not yet open. To fill the time until the slot opened, he was sent to the Navy School of Music in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Here James was able to continue his music education.The Washington position never opened so he was sent to the 4th Army Band at Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio. From there he was sent to the 49th Army Band in Vicenza, Italy. In Italy he was the trumpet soloist and played concerts throughout Europe where he also had the opportunity to attend many outstanding musical performances.

Upon release from the Army, James was able to continue his teaching career at Cole High School, Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio. One of his methods of discipline for disturbing band rehearsal was to have the guilty student run laps around the tennis court shouting, "I love Mr. Cain." After teaching five years for the Army, he was honored by Bob Lewis, the Coordinator of Fine Arts for Northside ISD, to open Coke R. Stevenson Middle School in San Antonio. James remained director at Coke Stevenson for thirty-six years, the last thirty-five of which the band was awarded thirty-five consecutive UIL Sweepstakes trophies.

Yearly he included local television personalities as concert master of ceremonies for the Spring Concert. At this concert James would also surprise the band members and their families by appearing using various disguises and unusual batons. One year he hosted a concert band from Germany that performed a concert for the entire school. During his service at Stevenson, James was named Teacher of the Year. He served as clinician and adjudicator throughout the state for twenty-five years. He also served as adjudicator and coordinator for American Classic Music Festivals. James served on the Region XI Board of the Texas Music Educators Association, was a member of Phi Beta Mu, Texas Bandmasters Association and Texas Music Educators Association. While directing bands for forty-three years, James provided trumpet music for holidays and special events as a soloist and as a member of a brass ensemble. He held workshops as well as mentoring student teachers and student observers as requested by the district supervisor, Bob Lewis followed by James Miculka. In 1990 he was nominated for the Disney Outstanding Teacher award. James is remembered for his infectious personality, dedication to his students, great talent, caring, uniqueness, wonderful sense of humor, enthusiasm and energy. He is held in high esteem by students, parents and colleagues.

James has been honored to have so many wonderful mentors throughout his career. He would especially like to thank Billy Harrell, Rey Meza, Fred Schroeder, Gary Rosenblatt and James Miculka for nominating him and to the Alpha Chapter of Phi Beta Mu for election to the Texas Bandmasters Hall of Fame.

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