It is Tuesday morning at Interlochen and I am really itching to get started with my orchestra. Our first rehearsal is this afternoon at 2:00 and I just can't wait to meet the kids and hear what I will be dealing with for the next three weeks! That being said, I have a few thoughts about my experiences on Sunday and Monday as I have now gone through my orientation here and have begun to settle in to the camp.
I have always believed that the music education and string education communities are really not all that big and that much of what we do as string educators is relational at every level. That concept has been confirmed over and over in the past two days for me. It seems that everyone that I meet either shares mutual friends with me or mutual teaching situations. From the moment that I arrived here, I have met people that I could have been friends and colleagues with for years. We all really do inhabit the same community.
On our first morning here, my wife and I were enjoying a cup of coffee on our front porch and met a lovely woman, Emily, who was living beside us for only one night. As we struck up a conversation, we found out that she had a background in Suzuki, had been involved in Interlochen for over 50 years, and lived in State College, PA. As we discussed our mutual experiences in PA, Suzuki Circles, and even trips to Scotland, we found that we had an incredible amount of common ground and struck up a quick friendship.
At a faculty reception later that day, the Intermediate Band Conductor came up to me and said, "Hi Scott!" After a minute of confusion due to "different place, different time syndrome ," I realized that he is Len Lavelle, Band director at North Hills High School in Pittsburgh, whose wife is Sarah Lavelle, from North Allegheny High School in Pittsburgh. She is a trusted colleague and runs one of the really fine and largest orchestra programs in the Pittsburgh Area. North Allegheny happens to be my wife's alma mater as well. Len and I had a wonderful conversation and began to develop a new friendship on an entirely different level than before. We are clearly interested in the same things as music educators.
The list could go on and on. I have met many folks that know Chuck Eilber, a former Director of Interlochen Academy and the founding Director of NCSSM. I have met many folks that have worked with my friend and colleague from UNCG in String Education, Dr. Rebecca MacLeod. I have run into new colleagues that work with and know too many of my string education colleagues to begin to mention them all here.
I realize how fortunate I am to live and work in the field of music education and specifically string education. The relationships are so rich and the community is so loving and inclusive. I am also so aware of the responsibility of representing my fine string colleagues while I am here. In many ways, I, for these students, am the face of orchestral string music. I promise to represent you all with love, musicianship, and care. After all, this is a small community. We all seem to know each other in some interesting and important way. And, many of these students will be running into each other (and us!) for the rest of their lives. I want their memories of this experience to be rich – in the relationships, the music-making, the learning, and scholarship.
For now, we will endure another day of high-90's heat and work diligently to further the cause of classical orchestral music and the arts in general. Opportunities are everywhere!