Joined: 21 Feb 2003
Location: Rapid City, SD
|Posted: Sun Aug 14, 2005 6:35 pm Post subject: article about Jerry Franks and dentistry
|From Mark VanCleave's website:
This article was published in the Indianapolis Star
Newspaper sometime in the mid-eighties.
Johnny Carson asked Doc Severinsen one night if he new of anyone who played as well as he did. Doc answered: "Yeah, there's this tubby little guy in the little hick town of Winona Lake, Indiana. His name is Jerry Franks."
What is a trumpeter like Jerry Franks doing in Winona Lake? He teaches 90 students a week, from Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana in brass, percussion, and woodwind instruments. He travels from Winona Lake to do 150 concerts a year with the Dimensions in Brass orchestra. He follows this schedule even though he awoke blind on Easter Sunday, 1978.
Music for Jerry Franks, director of instrumental music and bands at Grace College, began when he was 2, and it is the reprise that runs through all of the occupations he's involved in today; musician, educator, inventor, publisher.
"The trumpet for me was a toy I walked around the house playing . By the time I was 5 I could play all the Sousa marches."
Franks played his first solo at 4 in the Uniontown First Bretheren Church. "From there on my goal was to be a professional trumpet player," he says.
Between 4 and 17, Franks was taught by his father, a band instructor and music store owner, and encouraged by his organist mother and flutist brother, who was instrumental in Jerry becoming a member of the Youngstown (Ohio) Philharmonic Orchestra while he was still in high school. "It was a five hour drive two times a week," Franks says.
He wanted to attend Grace College but Grace had no instrumental program. He checked other Christian colleges and found that none had adequate training programs for professional musicians.
"So I promised the Lord that if He would allow me to get the training and professional experience I needed, I'd teach at a school like Grace so other Christian young people could get professional expertise," he recalls.
After graduation from West Virginia University in 1962, Franks mixed a professional career with teaching junior high school. The professional part involved working as a studio musician, "doing film, recording, TV and commercial backups" with other musical greats such as Doc Severinsen, Buddy Morrow and Gene Krupa.
"We were all free lance musicians who came together at the call of the chair'. When the union needed a certain instrument, they called and got the people for the work."
It was during this period that Franks and Doc Severinsen became acquainted.
Because of Frank's recognition as a musician, he has been offered some choice positions in the years since he played at the "call of the chair." In 1966, on the same day that Les Brown offered Franks the lead trumpet in the Dean Martin Show band and a chance to perform at the Hollywood Palace and with Bob Hope in Vietnam, Franks was offered the job of featured soloist and associate conductor of the U.S. Marine Band. He had been offered conductorship of the Disney World Band and in 1977, when a contract dispute arose between Doc Severinsen and NBC, Franks was asked to take over the conductorship of the Tonight Show orchestra.
He rejected such offers to remain at Grace College.
"What Grace needed was a name, and versatility," he says. "The school couldn't afford four or five teachers in brass, percussion and woodwind. The experience I'd had was grooming, and training, so I could take the place of the teachers they couldn't afford."
The program Franks follows would wear most people down: 90 students from high schools and universities such as I.U. At Bloomington, the University of Michigan, Bethal College, Taylor, Ball State and Indiana State University. In the summertime, students from as far away as the University of Texas and San Francisco come to the Warsaw-Winona Lake area, stay the summer and take lessons.
In addition to the 90 lessons a week, Franks conducts the Dimensions in Brass orchestra. It has been recognized as one of the finest in the country by national musician's magazines. It appeared at the governor's conference in Indianapolis in 1977, and was touted by an NBC studios official as "a small band of the finest quality I've heard."
Franks squeezes in work for Conn Instrument Co., a job that began when he was still working as a studio musician, and involves demonstrating instruments and giving concerts at music clinics.
Franks also has designed instruments-one a professional model marketed through Conn. He presently is working on another professional model.
Some of his former students appear with organizations such as the Fort Wayne and South Bend symphonies, the Boston Pops, Cincinnati Symphony, major military bands and the Chicago Symphony.
Quite often now, when Franks' students join such groups they take with them modified dental work or a piece of plastic, the object of a search that Franks began when he was still teaching in the East.
"Even before I came to Indiana I didn't have the extreme high range. Then I heard about some people who had their teeth moved to help get higher range."
What do teeth have to do with playing the trumpet successfully? A lot of orthodontists couldn't see the connection either.
"I was kicked out of more orthodontists' offices," Franks says. "What they said, essentially, was Look you, you teach music and I'll move teeth.'"
When one of the orthodontists consulted the first trumpet of the Peroria Symphony, he was told, "Just tell him to go home and practice." Franks smiles at the memory of being told this and explains patiently why he sought to alter his teeth in order to play the trumpet better.
"Hitting a high note depends on fast vibration of the lips. If the teeth are too flat, the pressure of the trumpet mouthpiece against the teeth cuts off circulation to the lips, making vibration and high tones impossible. It's like putting a tourniquet on the lips."
Two of the three elements governing the range a trumpeter has-air pressure and lip muscles-can be developed by practice, but the third, the teeth, can only be improved through dental work, says Franks.
Then Franks met Dr. Lester Gordon, and orthodontist in McKeesport, Pa., who had achieved some success with moving the teeth of two music teachers at Duquesne University. Franks consulted Gordon and learned that, because of diabetes, his teeth were weak and it would be ill advised to move them about. But he also learned that Dr. Gordon, working with full braces and retainer, was forming teeth into a wedge that made higher notes possible for trumpeters.
Over the years since, Franks' students have adjusted their teeth, first with braces, then with retainer and crowns, to achieve the desired wedging of the teeth, but all the while Franks looked for something better. About a year ago, he learned that Dr. Gordon was using a hard shell overlay for correcting overbites, and he asked the orthodontist to send him one.
"When I saw the model, I thought, why not turn it upside down, put a wedge in it and use it on the top teeth."
By the time Franks went to his dentist, Dr. Thomas D. Van Osdol of Warsaw, with the overlay model, Van Osdol had been wedging the teeth of Franks' students for two or three years, by means of crowning and retainer, so he was not taken aback when Franks asked him if he could make an overlay.
"I didn't know, musically, what he meant, "says Dr. Van Osdol, "but it was no problem. Jerry tells me how he wants the wedges shaped, according to air flow and so on, and then we take an impressions of the mouth. After the model of the mouth is made, I make a model of the overlay out of wax. I contour, carve and shape it the way we want it and send the model to the lab. They process it in acrylic and send it back to us."
"It's like a bumper on a car, it protects your grill," says Franks. "High C still evolves after much practice, but with the overlay the lips are protected and can function to full capacity. The overlay works for trombone and tuba too, it helps power, range, and endurance."
One of Jerry Franks' students, Kris Doub of Silver Lake, Indiana has two plastic overlays, one for the top teeth and one for the bottom set of teeth.
(INSERT BY MVC: The overlays were used PRE BONDING technology. As soon as Dental Bonding became commonly used, it was used exclusively for dental augmentation for Jerry's students. It's a one visit procedure ...can be changed ...can be removed ...very durable.)
Music students make up a very small percentage of Dr. Van Osdol's practice but he has found it "fascinating, an interesting way of helping people."
Dr. Van Osdol's range of practice often reaches as far as Jerry Franks' range of teaching. Musicians and students, hearing of the overlay, have come long distances to obtain one.
"The word is getting out, "says Franks. "There are some who are saying it's the most dramatic thing to happen to the brass world in modern time. I think that's pure barf...but it is helpful for the person who doesn't have the natural endowment."
The fourth occupation of Franks is the publishing of Christian music for bands and brass. "we contacted Volkwein of Pittsburgh and they said they'd do the entire series if they could use my name for publicizing and selling," Franks says.
The series is called Jerry Franks Presents Sacred Sounds for Bands, arranged by Phil Norris. Within the series there are arrangements for various levels of expertise: Sacred Sounds for Young Bands, Sacred Sounds for Intermediate Bands, and Sacred Sounds for Upper Level Bands, scheduled to be out in August.
"There are six arrangements in each one," says Franks. "The advanced series, just released, is called Dimensions in Brass and has an accompanying cassette to go with it. The cassette was recorded by the Grace College Wind Symphony and Dimensions in Brass."
Musician, teacher, inventor, publisher-all of Jerry Franks' occupations run full speed ahead in spite of the fact that he is now blind.
He'd had trouble with diabetes but doctors said it was "not serious enough, they said I wouldn't go blind. But in October of 1977 I couldn't see well, so I decided to memorize all my music just in case. I memorized 55 books. Then at Christmas of 1977, while we were on tour, my sight went. Three days after Christmas, my right eye came back and I could see until Easter of '78.
"It couldn't have happened at a worse time," continues Franks. "we were on a two-week tour, on our way to Iowa with a 20-piece band. So I couldn't leave, right? Only thing was-'how am I going to handle this?'"
Franks feels that the amount of activity with the two week tour might have been a factor in his suffering no emotional lows. "The Lord's given me a peace about it. At that time or since, I haven't had any trauma of any kind."
As to his conducting and teaching. Franks has found that his memory and hearing have stepped up to take over for sight. Because of memorization, he can play duets with his students, and rehearse, conduct, listen and learn all at once when before the Dimensions in Brass group.
As a result of Franks' vocation and avocations, he has received much attention and acclaim. He's twice been selected for listing in Outstanding Educators of America, Who's Who in Percussion in the USA and in the International Who's Who of Musicians, but what honor does he cherish the most?
"Three times I was featured soloist at the Midwest National Band Clinic in Chicago. That's an honor because it's musicians selecting musicians. I've played at the governor's conference, a command performance at the State house rotunda and I was asked to play for the inauguration but couldn't because of a tour."
How will Franks top these achievements? It's difficult to say, but judging from the past performance, he'll keep working on it.