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“Our Retirees, Where Are They Now?”: Newell Dayley

October 2022 Faculty Highlight

Newell Dayley

Newell Dayley received his B.S. in Music Education from BYU in 1964, a M.M. in Trumpet Performance from the University of Southern California in 1966, and a Doctor of Arts degree in Brass Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Northern Colorado in 1986.

Dayley joined the BYU Music faculty in 1968 as an instructor of music theory, brass chamber music, trumpet, and jazz ensembles. He later served as Director of Bands, Director of the Entertainment Division, Chair of the Music Department, Associate Dean of General Education and Honors, Dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communications, and Associate Academic Vice President.

As a composer, Dr. Dayley is best known for sacred songs and hymns such as “I Feel My Savior’s Love,” “Lord, I Would Follow Thee,” and “Faith In Every Footstep.” But these are but a sampling of more than two hundred songs from a number of musicals, theatrical productions, music dramas, oratorios and recording projects.

Dayley began embracing music quite early. “My parents reported my joy in singing, memorizing, and sing hymns in church and at home before I was two years old. My favorite hymn was ‘The Day Dawn Is Breaking’ and I taught it and other hymns and songs to my little friends in our home in Logan, Utah. I loved music and wanted others to love it too.”

He began piano lessons at age 5 but enjoyed Saturday morning music theory class the most. Piano lessons continued through grade school but practicing the piano was a lonely task. As he entered Jr. High School he wanted to play the cornet in band so private lessons shifted to that instrument. Buying his first trumpet a couple of years later signaled that to be his instrument of choice. A superb high school music teacher and summer music clinics at USU and BYU convinced him to attend BYU and major in Music Theory.

What are some lessons you have learned from your years of studying music?


Dayley loves the process of learning and helping students learn. Following his return from service in the Eastern States Mission, he met with Crawford Gates, then Chair of the Music Department and a valued mentor, who suggested that he ought to consider a change in his major to Music Education. “He said I probably would be teaching at some point in my life and I ought to know how to do it well. I followed his counsel and graduated in Music Education. That was excellent preparation for a college teacher. Crawford was a life-long mentor until his passing in 2018. I miss him.”

Music requires the development of many virtues. Just one of them, diligence, is found in the daily practice required of every fine performer. “For years and years I practiced every day with a purpose and used that practice to qualify for performance experiences with great musicians and important audiences.” He also chose to use that preparation to perform in venues that promoted virtuous living. “Early on while making a living as a performer I played in a few places that were intended to make sin look attractive. Choosing not to do that for a living was a fortunate choice. Music, at its best, is congruent with a righteous and holy life. I have given a few talks at BYU Devotionals and Forums about that issue.”

What have you been up to since your retirement?

The Morning Breaks - K Newell Dayley Album Cover

Last March, BYU’s Tantara label released a new 2-CD set titled “The Morning Breaks, The Shadows Flee” featuring Dallyn Bayles, Susan Turley, and Mark Johnson performing music by Dayley. Although that is the title of the first song in the LDS Hymnbook it came from a song written by Charles Wesley, in about 1740.

Parley P. Pratt, who discovered it while a missionary in England, felt it aptly characterized the Restoration. The first CD is a song cycle based on the Joseph Smith story and a couple of songs testifying of its truth. The second CD contains songs about living the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. “There is a song written to a lyric by Elder Scott. About three years before his passing he called me to his office for a visit. Pulling a small piece of paper from his wallet he unfolded it, handed it to me, and asked, ‘Do you think this could be a song?’ It was a beautifully poetic lyric about repentance. So one of the songs on the CD is “Oh Dear Father, Help Me Pray.” It was finished and first recorded just three months before he passed.”

Buy the CD in the BYU Music Store HERE or stream it on Spotify HERE.

Bob Campbell and I proposed jazz ensembles for chamber music credit in 1968 and began to build the jazz program. After he accepted a teaching position in Bountiful, Utah, I continued with the program, changing the name of the best jazz ensemble to “Synthesis.” Ray Smith was a member of that ensemble, went on to earn graduate degrees at the School of Music at Indiana University, taught a couple of years, and joined the BYU faculty in 1982. He directed Synthesis for forty years and achieved an International reputation for excellence.

In addition to time with students during the week Dayley also served in campus wards and stakes as a high councilor, as bishop, counselor in a stake presidency, and as stake president. This was particularly difficult for his wife, Diane, and their family. Her willing support came partially because she, too, loved BYU students because she also graduated as a Music Education major and played horn in its best ensembles.

They are blessed with eight children, twenty three grandchildren, and nine great grandchildren. “We had a reunion last August at a large home in the Heber Valley. For three days we talked, played, laughed, and remembered. Finding the right wife and being immersed in family life while serving at BYU was a wonderful time in life. I always got up in the morning anxious to work with and for students. It was all about the students!”

“I will miss the HFAC, the Concert Hall and the Recital Hall. Over the years I directed, conducted, or performed in a lot events there,” Dayley said. “Audiences were wonderful and we always tried to give them our best. There were times when Synthesis had to be scheduled on two nights with a full concert hall crowd on each. I am still often reminded of those times by audience members who were there.”

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