This mouthpiece has a great “Leader of the Band” sound. It gives a full and even sound from the top to the bottom of the range, with an excellent upper register. It has a rounded rim with an inside diameter of .610″. The cup is a very shallow V-bowl (similar in depth to Bach E/F). The throat is standard (#27), with the Legends LA (medium focused) backbore. It’s kept in stock in our Power blank, which has enough mass to give the sound plenty of core, but still lets the upper register really sing. It’s perfect for out-front solo and lead, commercial playing, or even latin and salsa.
This mouthpiece is really special to us. It’s a tribute to our high school band director, Dr. Ric Best. He opened the door for us into the world of music. He taught us how to play instruments and read music. He also showed us that it takes a lot of hard work to be successful, and it’s worth the effort. He simply wouldn’t let his students quit until they got it right! And he would never let lack of money or lack of support at home hold a student back. He would pay out of pocket or make any kind of special arrangements necessary to help his students. We (Derek and Leslie) look back with thanks and gratitude for all he taught us about music and about life. And if you read his bio, you will see that he didn’t just help a few kids. He devoted almost 50 years to helping thousands of students from all walks of life.
Bio: Dr. Thomas “Ric” Best
Dr. Ric Best was a career educator for forty-eight years. He served as director of band and choral activities with the Cocke County (TN) Schools from 1968-1971, the Lenoir City (TN) Schools from 1971-1998, and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga from 1998-2000. At Lenoir City he served as Director of Bands, Supervisor of K-12 Arts and was a member of the City school board’s public negotiating team. Also during his tenure at Lenoir City he was one of the state’s first three career ladder Level III Master Teachers in the arts division of Governor Alexander’s Career Ladder Initiative.
In 2001, he became the Kentucky supervisor for the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or the “Nations Report Card”, and the same year was appointed conductor and director of music for the Tennessee Wind Symphony, which holds the coveted Sudler Silver Scroll Award for international excellence. At UT Chattanooga he served as assistant director of bands, was responsible for the Moc Pep Bands and taught a variety of wind band repertoire and methods courses.
Dr. Best held a Doctorate from the University of Tennessee (Knoxville) with multi majors in School Administration, Curriculum Development and Music Education. He served fourteen years on the Tennessee Music Educators Association Board of Directors and was president of the East Tennessee School Band and Orchestra Association, the Tennessee Secondary Schools Band Director’s Association and the Phi Beta Mu Honorary Bandmasters fraternity, where he also served as executive secretary treasurer. He was twice a Sudler Laureate for international contributions to education, and was a member of the John Philip Sousa Legion of Honor as being one of the year’s “Top 10” wind band conductors in the United States. He was selected to five halls of fame including the East Tennessee School Band and Orchestra Association Hall of Fame, the Tennessee Bandmaster’s Hall of Fame, the Tennessee Secondary School Band Director’s Hall of Fame, The Loudon County (TN) Leadership Hall of Fame for Youth Mentoring , the Lenoir City Sports Hall of Fame, and was awarded the Tennessee Outstanding Achievement Award by Governor Lamar Alexander. Dr. Best was honored by special proclamation on six occasions by the City Council of Lenoir City, The Loudon County Board of Education, The Loudon County Commission, the Lord Mayor of Westminister in London, England, and the Tennessee General Assembly. He listed one of his most important accomplishments as being an Eagle Scout with advanced silver palms and a member of the brotherhood camp of the Order of the Arrow. Dr. Best was also appointed as an Aide-de-Camp for the 21st Legislative District by the Tennessee House of Representatives for outstanding service to the state and extraordinary interest in the educational process. He further held citations of excellence for extended service to education from the National Band Association and the Music Educators National Conference.
Under his direction the Tennessee Wind Symphony performed for the Lord Mayor of Westminister in London, twice at Carnegie Hall in New York City, and annual benefit concerts in partnership with the legendary Stan Brock’s Knoxville-based Remote Area Medical, a group that provides complimentary medical, dental and vision services to a world based population.
Dr. Best was elected to Loudon County Board of Education in 2010, serving as vice chairman in 2012 and chairman in 2013. Perhaps Dr. Best’s proudest accomplishment of the board during his tenure was granting a state of the art new music space for Loudon High School. Shortly after its opening in 2017, his colleagues on the board voted to name it The Dr. Ric Best Fine Arts Facility in his honor. During his seven years on the board, a total of four new band rooms, three new art rooms and four new music rooms came to life across the county.
Dr. Best grew up in Maryville, TN and attended Everett High School, where he was the band’s drum major and an accomplished trumpet player. He continued to play trumpet in the University of Tennessee’ s Wind Ensemble and Pride of the Southland Marching Band.
A few Facebook messages shared by former students and colleagues:
One of the most amazing men i ever had the privilege to know!
A man who looked at a big bunch of messed up kids and not only saw champions but knew how to pass on his passion and zest to help us achieve it and believe it ourselves!!! We need more people like this in the world!!
When I took over the head director position at Central High School, I was intensely afraid and frankly, a hot mess! This guy, especially, took the time to show me how to be a successful high school band director. He nurtured so many of my former students in the Tennessee Wind Symphony and gave so many of us mentorship that is second to none. He vouched for me so many times, most recently when I applied to come to Tullahoma. Ric Best, were you the best of the best? Well, does a one legged duck swim in a circle? You are loved and will be missed.
I had so much respect for Dr Ric Best. He expected/demanded at least 100% from his band and taught us that hard work and discipline brings excellence. There were a lot of us that came through his band program and it was a great privilege to have known him. The family is in my prayers.
I will never, ever, ever forget the incredible impact Dr. Ric Best, my high school band director had on my life!!! The path I chose was largely due to influence of this man and his love and drive for perfection in music and performance. He is an icon in the world of music and will be sorely missed! He touched so many lives! Rest in peace, dear friend!!
Lenoir City is sadder and quieter today. The leader of our band is gone. Ric Best brought out the best in misfits with bad attitudes and showed them dedication, hard work, and pride. He made us a family and turned us into decent people.
While we will miss him, I know the angels will be stepping in an 8 to 5 and their push will be perfectly straight. The saints will be marching better than ever. They may even get as many trophies as LCHS now that he’s with them.
Love and prayers for his family and all those who loved him and whose lives will be the poorer without him. Rest In Peace Dr. Best.
I just got the news that Ric Best has passed away. I was fortunate to be one of his band “kids” for 8 years. He taught us much more than music. I learned to work hard, to have self discipline and that I was capable of much more than I thought. He was always able to help us reach levels that should have been impossible.
Rest In Peace Dr. Ric Best. Thank you for being a teacher, mentor and most importantly, a friend.
I am extremely saddened to learn that my dear friend Dr. Ric Best has passed on. I learned so much from him and lots of my professional success has been a direct result of his tutelage. When I first became a head band director 15 years ago, I would listen to his tapes over and over and over again. I’d type up every word…every syllable. I’d follow his advice to the letter and my groups would ALWAYS get better. His ears were as good as anyone I know and his knowledge and advice were, too. Eventually, he started living in my head at every rehearsal, every run through, every rep. It wasn’t long afterwards that I began to call him “mentor” and more importantly, “friend”. Eventually, he started living in my heart, too.
There are givers and there are takers in this world and Ric was certainly a giver. He will never fully understand how much he has impacted and influenced my career and the careers of so many others. To use some of his own verbiage, he was “stellar”! He would often say that “this is not your finest hour.” “There is another level of achievement…another level of excellence that you haven’t reached yet.” Ric has gone on to the next level….he’s Box 6! Meanwhile, the rest of us will continue on while he will always live on here in our hearts and minds.
RIP Ric, Until we meet again on top of that box truck in the sky…