I grew up in a restaurant family. My mother and father served everyone, from the common man to Hollywood legends and heads of state. They simply loved to bring a smile to the faces of those who entered their restaurant. I always figured that I would follow in their footsteps. I simply didn’t have much skill at sports. In school, I was the definition of average.
Then, in 7th grade I was brought face to face with my future. My junior high director gave me a tenor saxophone and a tape of the great Stan Getz and asked me to play in the jazz band. From that day on I was obsessed with music. At first my passion was performing. I started playing with big bands when I was 13 and over the years, I have had the honor of playing for two presidents and hundreds of thousands of people on four continents. I have played with legends such as Tony Bennett, Lou Rawls, Natalie Cole and the Temptations.
But it was the influence of my teachers and mentors in college that instilled a passion in me to teach in higher education. Since 1996 I have been living this dream. First, at the University of Texas at Austin, then at the University of Tennessee and now back home at The University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Each day I get the pleasure of working with incredibly talented young men and women and help them discover their own voice…their own passion.
Over the years I have watched my students go out into the world to spread not only their wings but also their message through music. Some have become excellent educators in their own right. Others have toured as professional musicians. Each has added a special piece to my life. Teaching is technically my livelihood…but it is so much more than a means of support. It’s my life, my passion and my identity.
Paul Haar is active as both a performer and educator in the jazz and classical idioms. He has performed with such luminaries as: Tony Bennett, Lou Rawls, The Temptations and Michael Buble. Performed with the Austin Symphony, Nashville Symphony, Ashville Symphony and Omaha Symphony. As an educator he has presented clinics and masterclasses on four continents all to critical acclaim. A native of Fremont, Nebraska, Dr. Haar returned in 2004 to become the Director of Jazz Studies and the Associate Professor of Saxophone at The University of Nebraska-Lincoln.