I had this amazing woman as my music teacher in elementary school. As I went into high school I had the privilege of having her husband as my band director in symphonic band. Then when I continued my education into college at Purdue University, I once again had the pleasure of having Max as my director for Symphonic band and marching band.These two individuals had such a great impact on my music career. I got to see Mrs. Dianne Jones during football game tailgates, and also at band banquets ... I explained my back story with [others] and they thought it was cool that I had known them practically my whole schooling career. Mrs. Jones always taught us fun songs and even made up a few of her own. I loved the Christmas performances that she would put on every other year for the even numbered grades in elementary school. I will always associate the holiday Halloween with Mrs. Jones as every time I write out the word the song H-A-double L-O-W-double E-N spells Halloween song pops into my head. And good ole pass the witches broomstick played as we passed around the broom and she let out her witch cackle and showed us how to make warts out of rubber cement. I loved this woman! She was so excited when she found out I would be coming to Purdue and we would have the Concord Crew at Purdue. You are so loved!
— Stephanie Czarnecki, 2018
Dianne Jones (aka Mrs Jones) was my music teacher all throughout elementary school. Mrs Jones was one of only a handful of educators who encountered every single student in the entire school and yet, still managed to know each and every name without hesitation. She taught us that music was fun. I still to this day have random songs she taught us run through my head. Of all the educators I had over the years, Mrs. Jones had the largest impact. Had it not been for her persuading, I wouldn’t have joined band in 6th grade. I joined marching band at both Concord and Purdue because of Max Jones. My entire high school and college careers and experiences would not have happened had it not been for this family. She’s one of the few educators who I grew up knowing, including at Purdue where I still got to see her smiling face. I can honestly say that i would not be the person I am today had it not been for Mrs Jones and for that, I am eternally grateful. Thank you for everything.
— Matt Miller, 2018
I am a teacher librarian in Abu Dhabi, UAE. My school services beautiful Emirate children and our staff is primarily composed of Western teachers. We have a new first grade teacher this year from Canada, Daralee Pederson. When I met her, I was struck by her name. I asked her about it. She informed me that she was named for her uncles, Darrel and Lee. I told her that I remember a woman with that name from in my childhood ...

I chose to play the flute because of Dianne’s sister, Daralee. When I was a youngster in second or third grade, while attending weekend basketball, I would watch the band play with such intensity....forget basketball. I would watch every move of the flute player I would come to find out was Daralee Dwiggins, Dianne’s sister. It was because of her that I chose to play flute when I was in the fifth grade (Chan Varner’s class) ... During my high school band years, your Dianne led the flute section during summers. When I got up the nerve, I told her why I played the flute (I believe Daralee had been sick during my later high school years). Dianne smiled that dear smile and began to cry. She shared with me how special and beautiful her sister was and that I couldn’t find a better reason for playing the flute. Dianne then pointed her finger at me and looked very serious. She told me to never give up playing and to keep music in my life forever. I told her that I could never be as good as Rich or Amory. And she told me, “Nonsense!” She told me I wasn’t playing to compete with them. She told me to play for ME. If I played beautiful music for myself, the rest would fall into place.

Yes, I had forgotten about that encounter until this year when Canadian Daralee walked into my library. Mr. Jones, many will say you have had the greatest impact on all of our lives, and I agree with this, but I had a moment with Mrs. Jones. A moment I shall never forget...a moment that has indeed impacted my life’s work. Even though I did not study to be a professional musician, I have continued to play in churches, with community orchestras, and for other occasions (even weddings). I have sung in many choirs and am a skilled handbell ringer. Even today, when I am nervous and begin to shake due to performance anxiety that I have never gotten over, I take a pencil and practice the fingering to El Gato Triste and I calm down. I am 55 years old and still have that music memorized!

More importantly, each week, when Daralee has brought her class to library (which is coincidently today!), I have thought about Dianne and have smiled with thanksgiving. Today and from now on, I will continue to do so, but now with more conviction. I will look upon each precious face and remember my calling to love and guide children to their potential, which Dianne did for me. I will remember that finger in my face and the warm hug she gave me after her words of advice. She reached me, the quiet Merriman child, and I hope to do the same, to reach a child, wherever in the world I may be.
— Sarah Merriman Spencer, 2018


I can’t tell you how much being in your class meant to me. You were my favorite teacher and music was my favorite class ... You have made an impact in my life ... I will never forget how you brought music into my life and changed me forever.
— Tiffany Williams
My husband, Allen, and I were very impressed with your [Eastside] Christmas Program last evening! What you offer these children for music education is not just “kid stuff.” ... Thank you, too, for making each child feel important and a vital part of the music.
— Joan M. Troyer, 1995
You [never] cease to amaze me. The program was wonderful. We had relatives from Texas. They couldn’t believe the production and totally enjoyed watching it. We would like to thank you for all your hard work. We feel so blessed to have our children taught by such a wonderful teacher.
— Juli and Stan Burt, 2002
Drew Vergonet is my grandson. He is in the 2nd grade. Please accept this small donation towards your music program. We are very impressed with your teaching skills. Thank you for your great contribution.
— Dee Ashbaugh, 2001
I wanted to drop a note and tell you how wonderful the musical was last night. I smiled through the whole night. I was so proud of Alec, he has a wonderful music teacher. I can’t imagine how much time you put into the programs, but just know each and every minute is appreciated.
— Ginny Schlosser, 1999
You are a terrific music teacher. We love bingo, movies, and all the games. I have learned so much this year. Your help and teaching is greatly appreciated.
— Emily Andrews, 1996
I’m sorry for how I’ve been acting in music class, I’m going to try to improve my attitude. I do like music a lot. I feel bad about my behavior. It will change for the better.
— Steven Van Elk, 1995
I wanted to thank you for a marvelous Christmas program last night ... You inspire those children to such a high level of performance I know for a fact that there are Elkhart elementary schools who want a videotape of your program to see how it can be done. Thanks for the joy you’ve given Emily in music.
— Kit Parcell, 1994
...we wanted to let you know how much we appreciate all you do. Your love for all children and your fairness, excitement and energy are an example for all. Thank you for making music a special memory for our kids. They’re always talking about what they do in music. Thanks again!
— the Van Elks, 1994
I really enjoy music class. The thing that I have enjoyed the most this year was learning about Aaron Copland. I found that a composer’s life may be more exciting than it looks. Thanks for being a wonderful teacher!
— Cheryl Hanson, 1993-1994
I have such fond memories of the time [Max] and Dianne served as music ministry team at Main Street Christian Church in Winchester. I wasn’t old enough to be in the choir, but even this elementary child’s heart was touched by [their] music - my worship experience was enriched. And Rich and Becky just felt like the coolest cats in town that THE Mr. and Mrs. Jones came to their church each Sunday!

One of my biggest regrets in life was not staying in band through my high school years ... And yet music became my career, as I taught young children music through Mary Ann Hall’s MUSIC FOR CHILDREN for 20+ years in the Pittsburgh area and in Fairfield County, CT. It fed my soul - every single day ...

I remember Max coming out to my locker at the high school, asking me to reconsider joining the band. When I told [Max] I didn’t want to learn another instrument, other than the oboe, in order to be in marching band, [he] then asked me if I would consider trying out for majorettes. I look back on that and think to myself, “Wow! Max Jones asked you to be a part of his award-winning organization personally, and you said no. Idiot!” Whether [Max] couldn’t [imagine] not having all 4 Merriman kids in the band, or [Max] saw something in me that was special - it doesn’t matter. I’ve carried that memory with me with gratitude that [Max] sought me out, and regret that I didn’t do it. So thank you, sir. (Imaging my saying that - actually shouting, “THANK YOU, SIR!” as loudly as Rich Merriman could!)

So, the memories are fond - even for this non-band-member-Merriman. The respect for [Max] and Dianne runs deep. The newfound “Facebook friendship” with Dianne has been lovely, and her beauty just pops off of the screen.
— Amory Merriman, 2018
I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed the East Side Christmas program. I know it took a lot of time, patience and effort to put on a quality program. I was especially impressed with the number of kids that had special parts. Your efforts are appreciated by me not only as an administrator, but as a parent.
— George S. Dyer, 1988