Letter from Camp
“The woods are alive with the sound of music.”
I am in day 5 of what has been one of the most extraordinary experiences of my musical life. I have been conducting the middle school band for Session 5 at the International Music Camp on the U.S.-Canadian border. My experience has been life changing. Spending a week with students and teachers from across the country has rejuvenated my faith in what we do.
Remember that question you would get in the fall? “What did you do on your summer vacation?” I am hoping that lots of people will ask. Me? I went to camp. Yes, this retired band director went to music camp. Granted, I was paid to conduct a band. But the greater compensation was the joy, happiness, inspiration, love, laughter, and learning that I gained by spending a week with like-minded students and teachers.
As you begin your new school year take the time to seek out those like-minded individuals that truly understand the value of music education and how it can change lives. Reconnect with former teachers who would love to be asked to answer questions and be a mentor. Reach out to colleagues and share successes and commiserate over disappointments. Play in a band. Sing in a choir. Go hear live music. Music brought you this far. Be reminded that it can carry you through the brightest of days and the darkest of times.
As I finish my week, I am reminded that we as music educators don’t live in the real world and that is just fine by me! We live in a world where our students come to us because they want to make music – and we get to continue making music for our lifetime.
I sure hope I get to come back to camp next summer and spend a week in my musical utopia. I hope you find that special musical place in your life as you begin another school year.
– Rebecca Warren
(Rebecca was so recharged after camp that she agreed to conduct our lead interview for this issue. You can see the result starting on page 8.)
An Open Letter to My Director
First, let me express my gratitude for all the great years I have enjoyed playing music with you. We have played some great concerts together, and audiences loved the music we presented. Maybe a few times I saw tears shed when we were lucky to reach them on an emotional level.
It is these musical selections I wish to discuss with you today. We used to play such inspired music. We played pieces by the masters of classical music, Mozart, Rossini, Von Suppe and Beethoven. We played marches by the likes of Henry Fillmore, Karl King, Ken C. Wood and John Philip Sousa. Music that was without a question inspired by a Divine source. Music that there was no question that we had encountered something special, something that spoke to our very being. I sincerely miss that music.
Lately, we have abandoned those time-honored favorites to make way for the new music from new composers. Do not get me wrong. I am not totally against the new stuff, but, why do we have to abandon the old classics, the music that I and so many like me love. This older music is like an old friend that I long to see just one more time. This is the music that changed my life and elevated me to a much better place.
Why must I think every time I listen to one of my great friends, “there is a piece of music I will never play again”. It started off that I would say that just as a joke, but there is an awful lot of truth to these words.
I write this letter not for myself, but for future generations. I was having a conversation with a young friend who is a music student. While we were listening to a great masterpiece by Carl Friedemann, I was lamenting the fact that these pieces are no longer played. His words to me were that what was happening was wrong, that he had never heard of this piece of music, and he liked it. I realized that I have a responsibility to introduce anybody that will listen to my friends.
A good friend once said to me, “There are only two kinds of music, music that was truly inspired and will touch your very soul and that will span the test of time and music that was scribbled down to pay the rent or to get a grade on a test.” Going forward we must find the [new] inspired music yes, but let’s not abandon old friends that mean so much to us.
– An inspired band member longing for inspired music
Note: letters may be slightly edited for length.