Daily Archives: November 25, 2019

Moving the needle

Events, introspection, life happenings, signals  . . . in the last year have led me some crystallizing of thoughts related to how I wish to live out the rest of my academic career.

I’m ready to say it aloud:

I want to move the needle in people’s lives.  This will be my legacy.

And I think that perhaps I can do that with more focus on teaching, and less on administration.  With more time to create and innovate.  With more time to compose.  With more time to meet others where they are.

I spoke some of these thoughts aloud to colleagues over the last few days at the NASM conference, and that felt good.  The fleece is thrown to the wind.  In speaking it aloud, I have peace.

So . . . changes are ahead.  Now for a timeline.

NASM 2019

I am in Chicago as Webster University’s voting representative to the annual meeting of National Association of Schools of Music.

The meeting is always the weekend prior to Thanksgiving, and we are often in warmer climates, but Chicago is the place this year.  I arrived early to take in some of my favorite places at the Art Institute of Chicago, and to catch a Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert.

Around the conference sessions, I’ve also had hotel-room time to finish some projects and write plenty of emails.  I’m feeling a bit more caught-up at the office.

One of the joys of these conferences is seeing friends and colleagues from around the nation.  Hallway conversations turn into meals or drinks.  Quick hugs turn into lingering conversations.  And all is right with the world.

Another joy?  Food!

I dined on Chicago-style pizza, AKA ‘heart attack in a deep dish,’ on Sunday evening, at Lou Malnati’s around the corner on State Street. The buttery crust was heaven.

Afterward, walking back to the hotel, I was asked by four nice men hanging around street corner “Are you stuffed, ’cause I’m really hungry”.  I gladly handed over my box with the last two chunks of pizza, and in fact had left the pizza joint with that box, hoping to run into someone who looked like a meal would be a nice thing.  I demurred, though, at buying the same man a 40-oz. beer in the corner 7-11.


The Hilton Chicago has a huge gingerbread display in the elevator lobby on the main floor:


The conference’s plenary sessions always feel a bit like an old Soviet five-year meeting, with dutiful approvals of pre-ordained decisions.

But there’s some fun too, like asking the question “Which of these photos best represents music theory meetings at a conference like this?”.

This was a rolling photo display on a meeting room call board . . . .


Finally, an obligatory selfie from Sunday morning:

I think I had on the only pink shirt in a room of 800 people.