When I was teaching oboe, I was asked to participate in a program called March Madness. Multiple schools met at a host site for specialized instruction, break-out sessions, the opportunity to meet new conductors and perform in a concert. I was happy to teach in a Master’s Class setting, helping aspiring oboists hone their skills and think about their instrument in a different way.
The second year I was asked to teach, it was stated that the special guest conductor was also the composer of the featured band piece they were performing for the concert. The composer’s resume was extremely impressive. Many of the band directors were familiar with his work and were anxious to meet him in person.
Being more of a symphony and solo performer, I had never heard of him.
All of the instrumental specialists met early to get room assignments and music instructions. I recognized some of the teachers, but many of the faces were unfamiliar to me. The schedule was pretty tight, leaving only small blocks of time to take a potty break or snack. The coordinators provided a nice break area for the teachers, stocked full of drinks and food. As we circled the tables on the back stage, I chatted with the other teachers. Although some teachers were closer to my age, most teachers were young, recently graduated or Masters students. It was fun to hear about their lives beginning, seeing their hard work come to fruition. I, on the other hand, was just doing this part-time and have a degree in English.
During our breaks, I met one particularly friendly young man who was easily 8-10 years my junior. We chatted about our instruments and our families. We chatted about where we grew up and about where we live now. We chatted about what kinds of traveling we have done.We chatted about what kinds of music experiences we have enjoyed and the ones we haven’t enjoyed. We might even have chatted about the weather.
“So, what do you think about the feature piece?” he asked during our last break.
“Oh, well…” I said between bites of a delicious doughnut, ” it’s nice enough. The oboe part isn’t all that different from the flutes though, and not much to it, but I’m sure it will sound different all put together. Overall, I like it. What about you?”
“Yeah, I like it.”
Just then the program coordinator made an announcement. He introduced the band to the composer and then gave the podium over to the guest conductor.
My new friend walked over, shook his hand, and began rehearsal.
I guess we should have chatted about our names.