WARNING: The following narration is long and super-boring; read it at your own peril. If your wish is a good night's sleep, however, you're in the right place.
Richard Mancini was born in the hamlet of Ellensburg, Wash. before electricity and grew up in the mill town of Longview, writing on stone tablets with the other hunter-gatherers. His parents were also teachers, so there really wasn't much hope for him.
At the age of nine or 10, Mr. Mancini was tricked into taking piano lessons from a neighborhood piano teacher by his conniving parents, both of whom also played piano. They forced him to practice 30 minutes each day, using a kitchen timer to log the time. The phrase, "Piano comes before play," still echos in Mr. Mancini's ears. In 7th grade, he joined band, playing alto sax. He practiced 45 minutes per day, every day without fail. Sometimes he practiced more; however, his OCD began to rear its ugly head as he allowed his mom to write only "45" in the "minutes practiced" box each day so the entire year's practice chart would look identical. He has three years' worth of yellow practice charts showing seven-day weeks of 45 minutes of saxophone practice each day from September through June. The OCD continued into summer, even without a practice chart, as Mr. M. missed only two weeks of practice time (during a family vacation in summer) during that first year of playing. Actually, he continued practicing 45 minutes per day until his senior year, when he slacked off and skipped practicing on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Since he didn't like practicing after school when he could be outside playing, the 7th-grade Mr. Mancini began getting up before school to practice. Getting up a little earlier as time passed, eventually his clock was set for something like 4:30 AM. Saxophone for 45 mintues and 30 minutes of piano were the daily norm–then 0-hour jazz band! Mr. Mancini has seen more sunrises than most Americans….
In high school, he took private sax lessons from a classical teacher and later from former Stan Kenton tenor player Terry Layne. He had the honor of performing at the Washington State Music Teachers' Assn. (piano teachers) state piano recital at Western Washington University, representing Southwest Washington, and also at the Washington Music Educators' Assn. (school music teachers) state solo contest on saxophone, representing the Lower Columbia River district. He sang in his junior high vocal ensemble in 9th grade, and in the high school vocal ensemble (both auditioned groups) his senior year. He got to play oboe in the full orchestra as well. He began arranging music in 8th grade with the Star-Spangled Banner. He served as basketball pep band dirctor as a junior and senior, and was drum major and band president his senior year. Like many band-directors-to-be, he won the John Philip Sousa Band Award as the outstanding senior band member.
Also during his junior and senior years, Mr. Mancini played piano in a Christian band from his church called "Hosanna!" He wrote songs and sang as well in this group, which performed at many Longview-area churches.
He graduated as–believe it or not–valedictorian from R. A. Long High School (Lumberjacks, red and black). He attended Linfield College (Wildcats, red and purple) in McMinnville, Ore., for two years before returning to the city of his birth to graduate magna cum laude from Central Washington University (Wildcats, red and black) as a Dean's Scholar with a Bachelor of Arts in Education (music, K-12). He returned there during summers following to earn his Master of Music degree in music education. He began teaching in Camas (Papermakers, red and black) in the fall of 2001. Oddly, his favorite color is blue.
Mr. Mancini directed a large church choir in Longview and led worship there for more than a dozen years. His wife-to-be, Denise, became a member of that choir, and now they make beautiful music together. C'mon now–you had to see that one coming.
Mr. Mancini spent the first 16 years of his career teaching music in the quaint Finnish community of Naselle, Wash. (Comets, blue and gold), where he taught 5th grade band, 6th grade band, a combined 7th-8th grade band, and the high school band. In addition, he taught, at one time or another, elementary music (grades 1-4), 6th grade math, 6th grade English, 8th grade reading, pre-alegbra (whatever that is), first-year algebra, PE in various grades 5-8, and high school choir. No wonder he thinks he knows everything….
After he began teaching, he started learning to play other instruments, eventually collecting more than 25, including soprano, alto, tenor, and bass recorders, three clarinets, four trombones, four trumpets, three keyboards…but, ironically, still just one saxophone.
Mr. Mancini enjoys nothing more than watching his band perform in public, except possibly conducting them in concert. Ah, the powerful feeling of controling other humans…oops, that's supposed to be a secret. He's really not a fascist dictator at all, being a staunch believer in and promoter of individual liberty–which, of course, comes from individual self-control and discipline. But that's a different story. Conducting his young musicians in a concert is really one of his favorite things to do.
Mr. Mancini's interests include things like photography, astronomy, bacon, trains, flying airplanes (especially the beautiful little Piper Cub–and no, he does not have his pilot's license…yet), Apple computers, Starbucks, guns, electronics/audio/home theater stuff, German cars, Italian food, French fries, and the English language. Typical for his generation, video games confuse him unless they are Pong or first-gen Mario Brothers.
Mr. Mancini was awarded the Citizen of the Year award by the Pacific County D.A.R.E. chapter in 1995, back when we told kids to "just say NO to drugs." Nowadays, in the state of Washington, we say, "Just say NO to drugs, unless it's an ounce or less of marijuana at the age of 21. Then go for it." Mr. Mancini thinks the voters of the state of Washington were perhaps using marijuana when they voted for that initiative. However, the stupidity of the humans never surprises anyone who has spent nearly three decades teaching. Sadly, teenagers are sometimes smarter than adults of voting age.
Other honors bestowed upon him include the CHS "Pride Inside" award (2005); the Camas-Washougal Chamber of Commerce Teacher of the Year (2009); the Camas School District Teacher of the Year (2011), and nominations for Washington State Teacher of the Year in 2011 and 2013. Mr. Mancini is always most humbled by such recognition, even though humility does not come naturally to male humans, Italians, or conductors. Come to think of it, it's a wonder he isn't more insufferable to be around.