‘It’s really special to us’: Father remembers late son as UW music room named in his honor

MADISON, Wis. – One room in the new Hamel Music Center on the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s campus is being dedicated in the honor of a music school graduate.

The Daniel Gregg Myers Green Room recognizes a young man who died in a car crash months after graduating in 2008.

“The green room plays a much more important role to musicians than most people would ever realize,” Emeritus Professor John Stevens said.

Green rooms offer musicians a place to hang out before and after a performance.

“I think younger musicians really appreciate it,” Stevens said.

As David Myers knows, you’re never too young to get started with music.

“We have a picture of Daniel sitting at a piano at two years old in diapers pounding at the keys,” Myers said. “His mother said when he was in utero, during church choir he would kick along to the beat of the music. It was always like he was destined to become a musician of some kind or another.”

Daniel at pianoAs a father, Myers was more than proud when his son Daniel followed in his footsteps by playing piano.

“It was very, very gratifying,” Myers said. “He surpassed me when he was about 12, but I didn’t tell him for a couple years that he was better than me. But I think he knew it.”

Stevens remembers Daniel from playing piano at their shared church, to when Daniel joined him at the School of Music.

“I remember being very impressed with his piano abilities a youngster,” Stevens said.

Five years ago, Stevens composed a piece in Daniel’s honor using part of a composition from Daniel himself, using piano and violin — the two instruments Daniel played.

“Music was so important to Dan,” he said. “It was really nice to be able to contribute to his memory through a piece of music that will exist forever.”

“He had a wonderful sense of humor,” Myers said of his son. “He was very friendly (and) in my opinion, very, very smart.”

After graduating with his music degree, Daniel died in a car crash along with two other students. Following his death, the Myers family set up an endowment in Daniel’s name at the school of music.

“It was hard to start playing the piano again after Dan died,” Myers said. “It was months before I could even look at the piano again.”

The first thing he played was “Catch the Wind.”

“It’s just a song about somebody I’d like to be with but I can’t,” Myers said. “I cried all the way through it.”

He said music helped with the pain.

“One time I said to my piano teacher, ‘I don’t know why I pick things that are so hard that I can barely even play them.’ She said, ‘That’s how you stay close to Dan,'” Myers said. “It’s true.”

Music, along with the green room in his honor, is another way for Daniel to live on.

“My family is so thankful that the school of music and university did this,” Myers said. “It’s really special to us.”

As part of a dedication ceremony Thursday at 7 p.m., Stevens will play the piece he composed in memory of Daniel.