Melvin L. Smith
Smith graduated from Colorado State College (now Univ. of Northern Colorado) with a BA (’59) and an MA (’61) in Music Education. He taught music in South Dakota for four years before moving to Hemet, CA in 1963. In Hemet, Smith taught band at Hemet Jr. High School for 27 years, where he started a highly successful jazz program. He later became band director at West Valley High School in Hemet for 8 years, where he founded another successful program.
Smith’s jazz bands were frequent major festival winners (in many years, winning all festivals entered), appeared at many prestigious events such as the Playboy Jazz Festival and the NAJE national convention, and were also the subject of attention by Downbeat magazine. Smith was one of the originators of Jr. High School jazz education in California. Many of Mr. Smith’s alumni went on to have careers as jazz educators or as jazz musicians working in professional and service bands.