This week I engaged in something of a pilgrimage; a wayfaring back to my roots, if you will.
In part through strategery (I know this is not a word), and part through stroke of luck, I am spending the milestone of my 50th year in the place where it all began: Buffalo, New York.
I love returning home. I love the sights, the smells, the food. Most of all, I love the opportunity to connect my fading memories to real places, people, and things. As a part of my pilgrimage, today I will visit my old neighborhood, see my old home, and visit my brother. I will walk along sidewalks played upon long ago and stand under trees that I helped to plant, but are now fully grown.
Maybe it’s too much time on the road, maybe my impending departure from my first half century, but I am feeling nostalgic today. I am thinking about all the places I have been and people who made me who I am, including YOU.
Yes, I will visit my old house. The people living there now are different and the source of the squeals of laughter in the front yard will have changed, but even fifty years later, it’s purpose remains unchanged: to serve as a safe place of refuge and harbinger of hopes and dreams.
We all know that our music rooms are more than a rehearsal space. They serve as a refuge, home base, hangout, and secondary cafeteria to our students. Our musical sanctuaries serve as a remembrance of the past, connection to the present, and launch pad for the future. They serve as a place to survive the growing pains of high school and safe harbor from the occasional storm of teenagerdom. They serve as a place to not only succeed and fail, but to take risks and be challenged. My high school band room did this for me and I suspect yours did the same for you.
This was why I taught. This is what I love about this profession. This is what I remember, not just about my home in high school, but the one I attempted to create for my students.
Yes, we worked hard and make some incredible music there. But, in the end, I suspect that those memories faded far quicker than those related to laughter, joy, and the feeling that there was a safe place where students could rise, fall, and be cared for regardless of the outcome.
The inhabitants of your building may change from period to period, day to day, and year to year, but like my house on Grayton Road, it’s purpose remains the same: to be somebody's home, somebody’s safe space, and somebody's memory keeper.
Today, as you unlock the front door, set your stuff down, and lay your keys on the desk, let me be the first to say, “ Welcome home!”