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:
With Leigh Anne upon presentation of the quilt on Monday.
Teaching a conducting master class at Shanghai Normal University in 2005.
With Kat Singleton at dinner.
Mid 1990s, with Andy Gibb, who may now be a minister of the Gospel.
On stage at Ball State University Singers Spectacular, 2003.
With Jocelyn at auditions.
With Charlie in Las Vegas.
With Simon Carrington and Bob Chilcott and KU doctoral colleagues at Simon’s house in Lawrence, 1997.
August 19, 2016. Webster University.
2002. At Busch Gardens in Williamsburg with Ben Bucher, Betsy Baird, and Brian Paulsen.
Virginia the Landlady, JC, Dean Peter Sargent
My first-day adjudicating partner, Becca Andrews.
With Josh in Crown Point.
August 2008, just after arriving at Webster.
With my freshman student Jeff Allison at a 2011 master class.
With voice students Audrey McHale and Kyle Acheson at the honors ceremony prior to 2012 commencement.
With Adam Voshall. One really should examine the background before taking a selfie. Those orange cones are totally in the way.
Conducting the Ball State University Chamber Choir in 2003.
Our whole Ball State group in front of a preserved section of the Berlin Wall.
With Michael and Sarah.
Kyle Acheson, department chair Dottie Marshall Englis, Audrey McHale, me.
Before the ceremony, I picked up a cup of coffee, then saw the sherry. So I had both.
With former students Josh and Jeff in NYC.
With Eden Eernissee at the opening night performance.
With Jordan and Kurt at Adams Falls.
2000. A very young Anna at my doctoral hooding ceremony.
Before my final concert with the Kentucky Wesleyan Singers in Milwaukee, 2000.
With Cher at the end of last school year. Crazy selfie day.
1995. A promo shot for the community college where I was teaching.
2005. Deyang, China.
With Willis White in NYC.
Ball State University Singers 2004
Before the ceremony
Robert bought a jaw harp.
With Dr. Verna Brummett, my first music teacher.
Me with Luke.
With Charlie after his final show last week.
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.
Midwestern Music Camp at KU, 1996.
Late 1990s, with Kirby Tharp (now married) and a grown-up Winthrop, the same Jimmy Boswell from earlier this decade.
Some of Webster University’s 2012 music graduates.
With Jordan Parente after he graduated.
With Margaret Cardinal in 1998 or so, in Lawrence.
Teaching a freshman voice class at Shanghai Normal University, 2005.
With Jeffery Thyer outside of the Music Box theatre in Manhattan.
With Chase and Caroline Adams, both students of mine, after the show.
With Russ Berlin, my most important instrumental teacher.
2000. Paul Laird ‘hoods’ me for my doctorate at (insert fanfare here) the University of Kansas.
In Webster Hall yesterday, after Convocation.
Three of our student representatives after dinner last evening.
With my dear friend BJ Smith at my doctoral hooding. I visited Beej this summer in Denver.
With composer Gwyneth Walker after premiering her newest choral work in November 2004.