UCS in the News: "Teacher acquires clarinet with memories at band sale"

Photo by Erin Sanchez

Photo by Erin Sanchez

As a high school student in the early 1980s, Joe Syler used to help choose music for Utica High School’s jazz band and serve as a teacher’s aide to then-Band Director Don Nawrocki.

“He was extremely inspirational to me and all the students we had at Utica High at the time,” Syler said. “He was also my private lesson teacher in clarinet. That’s the reason I became a teacher myself. ... I owe my whole career to his influence.”

Now a Shelby Junior High School teacher, Syler has kept in contact with Nawrocki over the years. But it wasn’t until last year that he was able to acquire another valuable memento from his mentor: an old clarinet dating back to the 1960s.

Syler, from Shelby Township, found the treasure last year at the Utica High School Band Boosters’ used instrument sale and bought it for around $900 after Nawrocki sold it.

“He had it all ready to go, and he wanted to pass it on to another generation of students,” Syler said.

Nawrocki, who is now in his early 70s and lives in Sterling Heights, said he played the clarinet in college and then professionally for many years. He explained why he parted with his instrument.

Read more of Joe’s story on Sterling Heights Sentry