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Sehmann Award

Phillip Charles Sehmann


PHILLIP SEHMANN was born in Davenport, Iowa in 1931 to Mr. and Mrs. Otto Sehmann. After the death of his mother, he lived in Chicago with his father and brother, and at the age of ten was playing gigs as a saxophonist in a local dance band. When his father died, he and his brother moved back to Davenport to live with his aunt and uncle.

Phil graduated from Davenport High School in 1949 and entered the Iowa State Teachers College (now UNI) where he majored in Music Education and played bassoon. He paid for his education by playing alto saxophone in dance bands. He was an outstanding bassoonist, playing principal chair in the college band and orchestra as well as the Waterloo Symphony Orchestra. He was a featured soloist with the orchestra and was bassoonist in the faculty quintet at I.S.T.C. During his college years he was president of the band, orchestra, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. He was also given the responsibility of Head Librarian in the music library. In 1964 Phil received his M.A. degree in Music Education.

Upon graduation, Phil was offered the second chair bassoon position with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, but declined because of his desire to teach. His first position was at Dumont, Iowa, where he taught for four years.

Phil then accepted the Cresco High School Band position and began his 15 year tenure there in the fall of 1957. He remained the band director and head of the music department when consolidation brought about the “Howard-Winneshiek School District” and “Crestwood Senior High School” in 1960. It was Phil’s leadership, planning, and perseverance that brought about the excellent music facility that presently exists at Crestwood High School.

The Crestwood Band under Phil Sehmann’s direction quickly gained an outstanding reputation as one of the finest concert bands anywhere. The band was a consistent Division I winner at State Large Group Contest, and performed an annual Spring Tour featuring some of the most challenging repertoire for the wind band, as well as outstanding soloists, ensembles, and “stage band.” Phil was extremely successful in placing students in the All-State organizations (14 instrumentalists were chosen in 1967 alone) and had many of his students go on to successful careers in music.

The Crestwood Band performed at numerous conventions and clinics under Mr. Sehmann’s tutelage including the Iowa Bandmaster’s Convention in 1963, 1965, and 1971; the Iowa Music Educator’s Association Convention in 1968; the Iowa Band clinic in Iowa City in 1970; and the Tall Corn Music Conference (UNI) in 1967 - where the band premiered Don Gillis’ “Paul Bunyan Suite”. The summer prior to Mr. Sehmann’s untimely passing in 1972 the band performed extensively in Europe and took top honors at the International Band Festival in Vienna, Austria. Guest soloists with the Crestwood Band included Doc Severinson and Arnold Jacobs.

Phil was highly regarded as a private teacher as well. His double reed students came from all over the state of Iowa, and he worked part-time as a woodwind instructor at Luther College in Decorah.

Locally he was President of the Jaycees, Kiwanis, Howard-Winneshiek Education Association, Head of the Masons and Eastern Star, and director of the Congregational-UCC Church choir. He was married to Donna Sharp (currently a member of the music faculty in the Howard-Winneshiek schools) in 1956. Their three children (Debra, Michael, and Lisa) were all actively involved in the Crestwood Music Department, and later attended the School of Music at the University of Northern Iowa. Michael is receiving his doctoral degree in French Horn performance from the University of Iowa in December of 1990.

Revised 10/13/10



Elementary RecipientJH/MS RecipientHigh School Recipient
1992Virjean Knudsen (Nashua)Larry Joiner (Cresco)Tom Chandler (Elkader)
1993Darrell Dicken (Linn-Mar)Rich Stanaway (Anamosa)Bob Roussell (Monticello)
1994Norm Meyer (Linn-Mar)Bob Meyer (Starmont)August Knoll (Calamus-Wheatland)
1995Linda Ballou (Monticello)Bob Sadilek (CR McKinley)Peg Thein (Garnavillo)
1996Diana Blake (Waverly-Shell Rock)Jay Kahn (Maquoketa)Bob Huinker (Turkey Valley)
1997Jaci Ratcliff (Oelwein)Linda Johansen (N Fayette)George Curtis (Denver)
1998Carolyn Bollman (Waverly-Shell Rock)Randy Atkinson (Linn-Mar)Doug McFarlane (Oelwein)
1999Bard Mackey (Waverly-Shell Rock)Marilyn Fee (Clinton)Greg James (N Fayette)
2000Susan Kuenzel (MFL-MarMac)Robert Manson (CR Taft)Dr. Leonard Upham (Price Lab/UNI)
2001Lisa Lang (Independence)Diane Yeager (Independence)Jim Fritz (Decorah)
2002Carla Burchers (Tripoli)Jack Martinez (Clinton)Lane Powell (Cresco)
2003Polly Ann Jones (Howard-Winneshiek)Dwayne Johnson (Cedar Falls)Craig Aune (College Community)
2004Elizabeth Fritz (Decorah)Dan Norman (Monticello)Brad Jensen (Hudson)
2005Cathy Evelsizer (Decorah)Denise Graettinger (Waverly-Shell Rock)Roger DeYoung (Lisbon)
2006Kevin Makinster (Linn-Mar)Kristin Beatty (CR Roosevelt)Kent Crawford (Maquoketa)
2007Kathy Ruhser (Elkader)Karen Suddendorf (Turkey Valley)Jim Miller (CR Washington)
2008Greg Marolf (Western Dubuque)Paula Welter (Western Dubuque)David Lang (Independence)
2009Tracy McGregor (Nashua-Plainfield)Rich Scheffel (West Central)Andy Houk (CR Jefferson)
2010Stephanie Nuss (Linn-Mar Oak Ridge)Steve King (Linn-Mar Excelsior )

Thad K. Driskell (CR Jefferson)

2011Wendy Morton (Cedar Rapids Prairie)

Steve Stickney (Linn-Mar)

2012Eric Lins (Oelwein)Mike Davies (Cedar Rapids Prairie)

Gerald Ramsey (Cedar Falls)