Tuesday, July 15, 2008


What inspires you? One of the things that inspires me is music and it has always been important to me. My family is musical - my grandmother in my stepmom's side is a pianist/organist and my grandfather was a band teacher and conductor, and plays pretty much any instrument you put in front of him. I started taking piano lessons at a young age, and in 5th grade, I started playing the flute. I quit taking piano lessons when I was a junior in high school for a lot of reasons. I got very busy with school, my part-time job at a grocery store, band, and sports. I also had a hard time finding a teacher I felt was right for me. I grew up in a small town in Minnesota and the options were limited. I'd had the same teacher for about 8 years, but at a certain point, I think I outgrew her. I wasn't born with a musical gift. I'm not naturally talented, but I did work very hard at it and I was good. My sister was born with the gift, but she quit piano lessons after only a couple of years and quit band too. Neither of my brothers lasted in piano or band very long either. Music taught me so much - discipline and passion, to be specific.

Yes, I was a band geek. Here's the weird thing, though. In my school, band was pretty damn cool. The cool kids were in band, not sports. It's okay, you don't have to believe me.... :) The music department in our small high school was one of the best in the state. My grandfather, as a high school conductor himself, had a great deal of respect for my conductor. The number of music department trophies and awards far, far outnumbered any other department's.

Band is where I made a lot of friends and had some of the best experiences of my young life. The summer between 9th and 10th grade, we took a trip to Traverse City, Michigan to participate in their Cherry Festival competitions. The spring of my junior year, we went to Florida and spent a week at Disney, also competing. The summer after my senior year, we went "out west" to Wyoming, Colorado, etc, to compete. Those trips were wonderful experiences and absolutely some of my very best high school memories. It breaks my heart that none of my siblings stayed with it and were able to have these experiences, although they obviously had their own wonderful experiences.

My conductor, Mr. R. was my hero. He had been a teacher a long time and he was loved by everyone, because he truly loved his students and his passion for music. He was hard on us sometimes because he wanted us to live up to our potential. I loved him almost as a second father. He was the teacher you went to if you wanted advice because you got into a fight with your boyfriend, or if you needed help with your homework, or maybe had problems at home you wanted to talk about.

Mr. Hollands Opus was playing on AMC tonight and I was reminded again of my relationship with him and my relationship with music. After high school, I attended college for one year and joined the band program, but my high school was far advanced compared to this band and I was quite frustrated. Since then, though, I haven't found a lot of opportunities to pursue my music. Back in Minnesota, I did join a community band for a year, but since moving to Arizona, I haven't even picked up my flute. I bought a piano about ten years ago, but sold it about 4 years go, so I haven't played piano in ages, either.

My iTunes is packed with classical music, although not nearly enough. Every now and then, I'll hear a song we played in high school, and I'll get goose bumps because I remember how I felt playing that piece of music. It takes me back.

Think about music - I'm sure you have at least one or two or ten songs that remind you of a certain time of your life or a certain person. Music is a powerful thing and it inspires me.


Andy said...

Mr. Holland's Opus is one of my favorites! Lots of touching scenes in that movie...especially the final scene.

Theresa said...

I remember you getting all worked up about being 1st chair . . . oh the days.