After a much-needed break over the holidays and the new year, the time has come to once again add to this little corner of the internet. I was definitely ready for a break after a very busy fall semester. Although, now that I think of it, between teaching, my church job, and music prep, the actual downtime was in short supply! Nevertheless, it was a good reflective Christmas, and what better time to start writing again but the new year?
I look at the new year not only as a time of new beginnings, but also a time to reflect on the past. It just so happens that as I write this, I’m back in Lubbock for a choir reunion. Aside from preparing for the concert, this will definitely be a nostalgic trip down memory lane, and hopefully a bit of a creative boost. We could certainly all use an infusion of new creative energy from time to time, and certainly after the past 2 years, it’s needed! When your work is making music, it can sometimes be easy to forget that it isn’t just a chore–it’s an opportunity to make magic happen.
When I think back on my life as a musician, one of the most wonderful times was the four years of my undergrad. Everything about the training of becoming a professional musician was new and exciting. I had just had the real epiphany that THIS was my path, and this was the first step in that journey. Choir was a large part of this amazing time. No matter what I was doing–University Choir, Men’s Choir, Madrigal Singers...I was being fed a wealth of fantastic music both new and old, and I was blessed with AMAZING choir directors. It was a choral experience that was rather like being in All-State every day. I was continually challenged, inspired, and uplifted, and I began to truly understand how music could change both the performers and the audience.
Before I went to college, I got all sorts of advice from my parents (much appreciated), and one thing that stuck with me about being a music major was something my mom said (she was also a music major). She told me, “Make sure you really enjoy every musical experience you get in college...it’ll never be like that ever again.” And she was absolutely right. That isn’t meant to sound morbid or depressing. I have had so many wonderful and transformative musical experiences and opportunities since I graduated. But it was during undergrad that I first began to explore the wider world of music, and that time will always be a singular and magical one.
This reunion will allow me to revisit some music I have not sung in over ten years, and see how it is transformed by the life we all bring to it once again. We sang in this choir and experienced this music when we were young, eager, and bright-eyed about the future. Since then, we’ve all aged, learned, moved, and just, well, lived. We have changed. In so many ways we are not the same people we were back then...and yet, in just as many ways, we ARE the same people. We reunite now because the same thing that called to us and inspired us back then still speaks to our hearts and minds today. We bring with us a deepened collective emotional depth, and I cannot wait to see where that can take us!
So. Why the nostalgic rambling about my old college choir? Not just because I’m back in my old college town and I’m going to see old college friends and sing with our old choir director. Although, certainly, there will be a lot of feels from all of those elements. But more than that, I think it is important to remember to truly enjoy what you are doing now. No matter what it is, it will never be like that again, for good or ill. When you are blessed with the chance to have amazing experiences and make wonderful friendships, don’t take it for granted. As any adult will tell you, someday you will look back on “the good old days” with fondness, even if in the moment the days don’t seem so great. We would all do a lot better if we tried, just a bit, to see the days as “good” while they happen, rather than waiting until they also become “old.”
And...one more thing...wishing Dr. John Dickson a fantastic retirement, and exciting new chapters ahead! You have changed many lives through your work in music, and I am forever grateful that I got to be a part of that!