Why did I go into music as a career? What is it that has always drawn me to music, and to performance of music?
My family (mom's side) has always been musical....Mom played French horn in Band, and just about all of her siblings played instruments too. I just grew up knowing I'd be in Band when I got old enough, and always wanted to play the trumpet. My grandfather played trumpet, and so did my uncle (his son), so I represent the 3rd generation trumpeter in our family. :)
So, after starting Band in 6th grade (thanks, Mr. McGeough), that was it........I was hooked. By 7th grade, I knew I wanted to be a band director (thanks, Mrs. Thornburg). After that, it was never a question whether I would continue to play and perform. Something about that feeling you get in performance.......
It's hard to describe, especially to someone who may have never done it. When you're performing music with a group, and it's going well and performing at a high level, there's a euphoria that happens among the group members. The feeling of being caught up in the energy and music-making, becoming a cohesive unit and creating something that exists only in that moment and can never be exactly duplicated.....it's incredible. So whether it's a concert band, orchestra, a choir, or whatever.....I don't ever want to be without that feeling.
But here's what I found when I became a band director: that feeling is sometimes hard to come by when you are the leader (i.e. the person in charge who has to run things and stress obsessively about what each group member is doing). You are no longer the performer, but the conductor. And often, directors find that they lose their performing "outlet"....even though the love of performing was what drew them into the profession in the first place.
For me, it's been like this: teaching middle school band and trying to get excited about thrilling music like Mary Had a Little Lamb and Twinkle Twinkle. Then, teaching a tiny (did I say tiny? I meant microscopic) high school band, in which we just hope to have enough people to play the parts, much less actually make real music. Also, I sing in the church choir, but it's kind of like my school.......tiny group, tries hard and does fine, but true aesthetic musical experiences are rare.
Tonight, I remembered how it feels to really perform and to get that "high" that comes from the thrill of a good performance with a very talented and advanced group. I'm very proud to be in our local community chorus, and we had a dress rehearsal tonight for Saturday night's concert. It'll be my first concert with them, and I'm truly exhilarated about it! I got *that* feeling several times tonight, and was reminded all over again about what has always drawn me to being an ensemble performer. I've really missed it, and didn't know how much until I had it again. I hope to never have to be without that kind of performance outlet again....it's a big part of who I am, and gives me a sense of purpose and "rightness" that I really need these days.