Q & A with Steve Dillon, Music alum and Advancement Council member

Steve DillonMason Gross Advancement Council member and Music alumnus Steve Dillon has owned Dillon Music in Woodbridge, N.J., for 20 years. The trombone player, who deals in new, used and antique brass and woodwind instruments and accessories, says he began selling instruments out of his parents’ house when he was just a junior in high school. Dillon says his client base includes musicians from The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, as well as orchestras in Russia and Japan. He also spends his time researching the life of the late trombone virtuoso and bandleader Arthur Pryor. Here Dillon recalls his experience as a Mason Gross School student and speaks about why he continues to support his alma mater today.

Q: What is your most memorable moment as a student?

A: One of the most memorable moments was when the Rutgers Jazz Ensemble went to Notre Dame for a competition. We’d sent a tape in and got a bad spot in the competition; it was a noon on a Saturday. We took the bus there. Guys were playing basketball in their tuxes. We won seven or eight awards out of 15. People were shocked. They were wondering, “Who is this Rutgers?” A lot of those guys from then went on to be successful [musicians].

Q: What or who inspired you while you were here?

A: I wouldn’t be where I am today if it was not for [late Music professor William “Prof”] Fielder. Fielder was a mentor. He talked sense into you. He instilled confidence. I met him in my second year. He was hard on me, but you could call him at 8 p.m. and ask him questions or stop by his house to see him. Prof was a longtime customer of Dillon Music. I told Prof when I was opening the business.

Q: What advice would you give to incoming and current students?

A: Learn to be diversified, broaden your horizons. What you think you want to do in the future may not be what you end up doing. Just because you don’t make the orchestra doesn’t mean you can’t earn a living in the music industry . . . You have to do something until you make it. It may sound romantic, but [being] a starving artist doesn’t feel good.

Q: There are so many good causes; what makes Mason Gross special to you?

A: Students coming out of college have no idea of the real world. I’m in the music industry, and I don’t play for a living. A lot can be done in the music industry.