All of us who learnt music and interacted with Maynard Ferguson will agree that he was a wonderful person. In my five years with the Institute Brass Band while playing first Trombone, I had the opportunity to interact with Maynard a number of times.
Bhagwan (Sri Sri Sathya Sai Baba) tells us to be always happy and Maynard was just that. He was always very happy to be at Prasanthi Nilayam in Bhagwan's proximity. For him teaching Swami's Band boys was like a sacred task. He was always patient and full of encouragement for us. Imagine somebody of his stature playing your first trombone music so that you get it right as a band. In my first year when I did not know how to read music notes. He wrote the trombone positions like 1 for C, 2 for D and so on for my entire music sheet. In fact he did the same for Baritones, Trumpets, Saxophones, Clarinet etc.
He would always conclude the band practice sessions with hilarious anecdotes from his own career - How once he made a horrendous mistake on stage and people actually thought that it was his master stroke of brilliant music- It was all to teach us that no one is perfect but that mastery lies in keeping one’s presence of mind while performing.
On the night before a concert he would always advice us not to practice too much, just like Bhagwan tells us not to leave everything for the last moment. On such occasions, he would close the practice session early and tell us to have a good night sleep and be fresh for the performance.
White snowy hair and a Santa like big belly, he always used to be at his cheerful best while teaching us music. I am sure that all the band boys new and old are infinitely sad to hear of his demise. May his soul always rest in peace!