What Would You Say? NH High School Gets a Surprise Visit from a Famous Graduate


A famous graduate greeted band students at Spaulding High School giving them an exciting surprise Tuesday.

Jeff Coffin, saxophonist for Dave Matthews Band, visited his alma mater to show students the power and impact that music is capable of creating within their lives.

Coffin has been working alongside Yamaha Corp. of America for the past 20 years, and they recently partnered with DonorsChoose.org for the Yamaha #MusicEssentials campaign.

DonorsChoose.org is a nonprofit that accepts donations to help teachers provide items to their students. Yamaha is matching donations on the site to qualifying projects that are seeking to provide musical essentials to underfunded schools. 

Yamaha is the largest manufacturer of musical instruments in the world.

John Wittmann, the director of Artist Relations and Education at Yamaha joined Coffin at spoke briefly about DonorsChoose.org’s mission. 

“Our main goal is to keep working hard so that instrumental music teachers have all the resources they need to teach the best they can. We want to keep supporting music, no matter the economic situation,” Wittmann said.

Coffin warmed up the crowd by proving just how much there is to explore while playing the saxophone. Coffin spent some time improvising different melodies and pitches, showing the students just how versatile instruments can be.

Coffins improvising caught Chloe Molinaro’s attention.

“Jeff is a major inspiration of mine,” said Molinaro, who plays percussion at Spaulding. “He shows how to push the boundaries of music.”

Coffin graduated from Spaulding High School in 1983 and since then has traveled all around the world with his musical career. During the visit, Coffin reflected back on memories in South Africa, Russia, Mexico, Japan, and all over the states. When Coffin is not on tour, he lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

The crowd encouraged Coffin to show off his skills of playing two saxophones at once, referred to as the double horn.

The students’ excitement quickly rose.

“That’s awesome,” they could be heard saying.

Coffin invited Spaulding High School’s jazz band to join him on stage, offering some first-hand advice on how to work on rhythm and articulation.

Jacob Wallingford, a student at Spaulding High School who plays the tenor saxophone, found this activity extremely helpful.

“I want to go in to musical performance. Today was one of those days I was like, 'Yes, I want to inspire other kids just like this,'” Wallingford said.

The entire school band was then welcomed on stage to play alongside Coffin, performing a Spaulding High School tradition, "Sleigh Ride."

Connie Coffin, Coffin’s mother, and a Rochester resident spoke proudly of her son.

“He is just a fine guy. He would give the shirt off his back." she said. "His house is always open, and he is so welcoming. He has a way with people. Jeff doesn’t judge by any means. He treats everyone the same.”

The last surprise of the night came in the form of a donation.

Coffin, alongside Yamaha, presented Spaulding High school with a brand-new Yamaha YX-500F xylophone, as well as brand-new mouthpieces for all the woodwinds in the band.

“Music can be a life long endevour," Coffin said. "Whatever you become, music can and always will hold a place in your life.” 

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