As the academic year draws to a close at the University of New Hampshire this year, so too does the long, notable career of David Seiler, the University’s Director of Jazz Studies. Dave spent 52 years teaching music at the college level, 43 of them at UNH.
Dave has always thought of his students first. And he can remember every student he’s every had, what high school they came from, and where they are now. He was always trying to give his students better experiences through recording projects, masterclasses and performances with jazz legends, and by bringing in artists through the trad jazz series for the students to hear and experience. His presence will be missed but his legacy will continue through his students teaching the next generation just how they were taught from Dave. —Ryan Parker
Over the course of all those years, he inspired a love of jazz in hundreds of students, sending them on to make their own careers in the music they learned to love.
A native of LaCrosse, Wisconsin, Dave received his Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education and a Master’s Degree in clarinet performance from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Dave has, of course, many generous attributes. I’ve personally greatly benefited from his way of putting students and colleagues in positions to learn and grow by doing something they didn’t know they could do until it was over! Once the terror subsides, confidence and inspiration take over, and it's always about playing the best music possible, and then some. —John Hunter
He taught at Millikin University, Lamar State College, and the University of Idaho, all before coming to the University of New Hampshire, where, in addition to his duties as Director of Jazz Studies, he is a Professor of Clarinet.
Dave Seiler is a one-of-a-kind Musician, Educator, Father Figure, Guru, and Friend. He has shaped jazz education in ways that only become evident years later. He knows music, politics and, especially, people. He will hear a student play briefly and know that they have a future, and will know the unique struggles this student will undergo along his journey. Loyal almost to a fault, he has given me innumerable opportunities as my teacher, boss and mentor. He is a great woodwind player, a formidable clarinetist—though he has shown me a great voicing or technique or two on piano. Some of my favorite moments with him have been in rehearsing my music, where he has insight into it that even I didn't notice. —Mark Shilansky
He is a founding member of both the University of Idaho and the University of New Hampshire Faculty Woodwind Quintets and has had an extensive career as a guest soloist at high schools, universities, and at jazz clubs and in concerts in the Boston area. Here on the Seacoast, he is well known as the moving force behind the Monday night Traditional Jazz Series at UNH and the annual Tommy Gallant Jazz Festival in Portsmouth’s Prescott Park, as well as for his leadership of the Seacoast Big Band.
Seiler’s conducting credits include Director of Bands at the University of Idaho (1963, 1966-72), Director of the University of New Hampshire Symphony Orchestra, and director of the UNH Summer Chamber Orchestra (a professional group, 1976-84).
I owe so much to Dave Seiler. He recommended me for the teaching position at the University of New Hampshire and has given me the opportunity to meet and perform with some of my musical heroes. Dave's musical legacy inspires me to be a better person and a better educator each and every day. —David Newsam
The UNH Jazz Band, under the direction of Seiler, has performed on the SS Norway Jazz Cruise, the International Association of Jazz Educators, five European tours, and performances with numerous guest artists. The most recent CDs produced by the UNH Jazz Band, Monk and Then Some, the culmination of a two-year project with Clark Terry, and Dedicated to You, have received very positive reviews.
Dave Seiler has been one of the most important musical mentors in my life. I first met Dave at a jam session when I was 13. He began hiring me to play gigs with him when I was 16. And in 1989, he hired me to be the jazz drum instructor at UNH. In 26 years with Dave, I've seen the influence he has had on young musicians as they’ve come into their own. Because of Dave, I’ve met and performed with many of my musical heroes. Dave's dedication to jazz and jazz education and the care and loyalty he shows to all of his students and fellow teachers have earned him true legendary status as well as the love and respect of all of us who know him and what he has done for jazz in this area (never in search of praise or accolades but deserving of both!). Thank you Dave. We love you, man! —Les Harris, Jr.
His collaborations with Clark Terry have included performances of Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite, Tone Parallel to Harlem, and The Sacred Concerts. Seiler is co-founder, along with colleague Robert Spevacek, of the University of Idaho-Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival and is co-coordinator of the UNH Traditional Jazz Series and the UNH-Clark Terry Jazz Festival which he founded in 1974. Seiler was coordinator of the UNH Summer Youth Music School for twelve years and is still active in the program.