Today marks the first day of rehearsals for my 7th season as conductor of Interlochen's Intermediate Concert Orchestra and for all of the ensembles for the 2017 summer season. I am excited to get started with my group and woke up this morning with a great amount of energy and anticipation for the coming day. I know that this will prove to be a wonderful summer of music-making and learning. I can't wait to meet my students and begin to learn who they are and what they are about.
I began my morning with my (third) cup of coffee out at the dock on the lake in front of my cabin. I looked to the north and saw grey clouds with a little bit of sunshine peeking through. I look to the south and saw blue sky and white clouds. I couldn't help but to reflect on the beauty of this place and the wonderful life that I live as a musician , teacher, and artist . I'm feeling blessed this morning.
On Saturday we had our opening faculty meeting. It was a wonderful reunion of magnificent friends and colleagues. I always love this meeting because so many of us are coming back together after a year of successes, trials, and arts events . We get to catch up on all of this personal and professional experience and renew our deep and lasting friendships . There is also always a great anticipation of the work and fun ahead of us and the incredible art that is about to be created. This gathering is always a highlight for me.
This year, Interlochen has a new president, Trey Devey. He is truly just days into his tenure at Interlochen. We met him and heard his opening remarks. I feel confident that he will bring a deep respect for the institution and tradition along with new perspective, ideas, and energy to this special place. I feel certain that we are in good hands moving forward.
We also heard opening remarks from Ted Farraday, Interlochen's Vice President of Education Programs. I always look forward to Ted's remarks at the beginning of Camp. I have actually written about them before in a previous post. He has an incredible ability to cut to the chase on our goals and motivations for teaching and promoting the arts . This year was no different. I take notes on his remarks every year and this one was no different. He reminded us the the best teaching occurs when we ask questions. Not just "who, what and where." The important questions are "why and how?"
He also articulated this idea:
There are really only 2 kinds of questions:
The response to this is facts and information. In this information age, this is readily accessed. Important, but accessible.
Why do we care? This cuts right to the human condition. Thinking has to take place.
This question requires more time and consideration.
We know this as teachers, but it is always good to be reminded. Our content is important. Notes, rhythm, technique, and history all matter. But, the inspiration and thought that gives the content relevance to the human condition is where real arts learning and inspiration occurs.
Ted also encouraged us to be thoughtful when meeting folks for the first time. Ask them, "What's happening?" "What's important right now?" "How can I support you?"
Wow. What a wonderful charge to start the summer. These are the questions I will be asking my students and colleagues. See? This is why I can't wait to get here and get started each summer.
To add to all of this anticipation, I am also digging into a thought provoking book that I will be writing about in coming days. It is Beethoven: His Spiritual Development, by J.W.N Sullivan. I was cleaning out some bookshelves at NCSSM before coming to Michigan and ran across this 1927 publication. The title totally intrigued me and I had to stick it in my backpack and bring it with me.
This book looks at art, expression, interpretation, and, of course, Beethoven's life and works in interesting ways and will certainly provide a great deal of food for thought for me in the first week or so of camp.
Time to go to rehearsal. More later!