Another school year is beginning.
Contracts commenced yesterday for the 2020-21 academic year.
I’ll save for some other time the comments about how strange this year feels already.
When I was in high school, I thought that teaching was the path I would take. Music came easily to me, so music education seemed the right road. Working at Windermere Baptist Assembly the summer before my senior year of high school, though, I felt a strong call to do church music. (This was one of four or five times in my life when I felt an overwhelming, deep, intrinsic presence of something greater than me.)
So church music was the path, and off I went to Southwest Baptist University. And then, part-way through my first year of college, I realized that God’s call on my life was broader perhaps than solely church music. I recall clearly: I was in a course entitled Introduction to Religious Education (the topic in which my father took his graduate degree) and was lit up by Maslow’s hierarchy and learning theories. So I changed my major to religious studies.
I expected to live my life as a musician and pastoral type in Southern Baptist settings. But life intervened. The circuitous path that followed was something I now liken to wilderness years. And in December 1987 I was asked to teach voice lessons to a teenager whose voice had recently dropped.
In quick succession: quit my day job, hang out a shingle as voice and piano teacher, start raising rates to whittle away the chaff, take a part-time gig at the local community college, grab a church gig, gain a Master of Arts in Music, start a doctorate. That was all in a span of nine years.
Teaching found me. Music found me again, claiming me from my wilderness.
And here I am today, commencing my 22nd year of full-time university education, and my 33rd year of being in love with teaching.
Memories from the years:
1995. A promo shot for the community college where I was teaching.
Before my final concert with the Kentucky Wesleyan Singers in Milwaukee, 2000.
Our whole Ball State group in front of a preserved section of the Berlin Wall.
With Cher at the end of last school year. Crazy selfie day.
With Jocelyn at auditions.
With Margaret Cardinal in 1998 or so, in Lawrence.
Before the ceremony
With Chase and Caroline Adams, both students of mine, after the show.
Kyle Acheson, department chair Dottie Marshall Englis, Audrey McHale, me.
Teaching a freshman voice class at Shanghai Normal University, 2005.
August 19, 2016. Webster University.
With Josh in Crown Point.
With voice students Audrey McHale and Kyle Acheson at the honors ceremony prior to 2012 commencement.
In Webster Hall yesterday, after Convocation.
With Simon Carrington and Bob Chilcott and KU doctoral colleagues at Simon’s house in Lawrence, 1997.
With Charlie in Las Vegas.
Me with Luke.
Mid 1990s, with Andy Gibb, who may now be a minister of the Gospel.
Conducting the Ball State University Chamber Choir in 2003.
With my freshman student Jeff Allison at a 2011 master class.
With Jordan Parente after he graduated.
With composer Gwyneth Walker after premiering her newest choral work in November 2004.
Midwestern Music Camp at KU, 1996.
2000. Paul Laird ‘hoods’ me for my doctorate at (insert fanfare here) the University of Kansas.
With Dr. Verna Brummett, my first music teacher.
Late 1990s, with Kirby Tharp (now married) and a grown-up Winthrop, the same Jimmy Boswell from earlier this decade.
With Eden Eernissee at the opening night performance.
2000. A very young Anna at my doctoral hooding ceremony.
With Charlie after his final show last week.
With Jordan and Kurt at Adams Falls.
With Adam Voshall. One really should examine the background before taking a selfie. Those orange cones are totally in the way.
With former students Josh and Jeff in NYC.
With Russ Berlin, my most important instrumental teacher.
With Kat Singleton at dinner.
Front, l-r: Cody, Eden, Caitlin, Lauren; Back, l-r: Michael, Eric, Jeff, Mike. They hail from WA, CT, MO, OK, TX, CO, and IL.
2005. Deyang, China.
With Michael and Sarah.
Virginia the Landlady, JC, Dean Peter Sargent
With Willis White in NYC.
Some of Webster University’s 2012 music graduates.
Robert bought a jaw harp.
With my dear friend BJ Smith at my doctoral hooding. I visited Beej this summer in Denver.
Before the ceremony, I picked up a cup of coffee, then saw the sherry. So I had both.
Teaching a conducting master class at Shanghai Normal University in 2005.
Three of our student representatives after dinner last evening.
August 2008, just after arriving at Webster.
With Jeffery Thyer outside of the Music Box theatre in Manhattan.
With Leigh Anne upon presentation of the quilt on Monday.
My first-day adjudicating partner, Becca Andrews.
Ball State University Singers 2004
On stage at Ball State University Singers Spectacular, 2003.
2002. At Busch Gardens in Williamsburg with Ben Bucher, Betsy Baird, and Brian Paulsen.