Years ago, when Winston Morris chose the tuba, he had no idea he’d influence decades of students, bring joy to music lovers and set a Guinness world record.
Morris has taught tuba at Tennessee Tech for 50 years. During that time, he’s amassed a collection of more than 2,500 “tuba items.”
Early in his career, Morris was annoyed that there seemed to be so much art featuring other instruments, but not his beloved tuba. Then, a student brought him a small, lead figurine of a soldier playing the tuba. The search was on. Morris and his students eventually found more than 2,500 figurines and pieces of art from all over the world. The smallest, he said, is a hand-carved Japanese figure, about 1/8 of an inch tall.
“You’re out to perform and you visit flea markets, shops, and you see them,” Morris said.
Last month, the Guinness Book of World Records said Morris’ items were the largest collection of tuba-related things in the world. The process to apply for that honor took nearly three years and many man-hours of documentation, Morris said.
Now, the collection is on display. Morris donated it to Tennessee Tech. The exhibit is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the TTU – Regions Bank Building located at 10 W. Broad Street in Cookeville. Admission is free.