New Mexico All State Guitar

1/23/2011 Sunday 9:19 pm

I had the honor of going to New Mexico to conduct the All-State Guitar Ensemble there several weeks ago.  I think the reason I’ve not yet posted anything about the trip was that the experience was so overwhelmingly powerful for me that I haven’t been exactly sure what to write!  I had an amazing time.  The kids were incredible.  My colleagues in new Mexico are amazing.  I worked as hard as I know how to work, the kids really responded, and we played great for what I would guess was close to 1,000 people.  I arrived on a Wednesday (January 5th).  We rehearsed from 7-9PM, then 8-5 both Thursday and Friday, and then a bit more on Saturday morning before our noon performance.  I was on a plane home by 3:30PM that afternoon!

Most importantly: the kids were incredible.  They were stuck in a room with me for close to 20 hours.  I was counting and waving my arms around and singing and demanding as much as I know how to demand from young musicians the entire time.  I was thoroughly exhausted, and I know they were too, yet they gave it everything they had. There were 72 players from all over the state.  Secondly, John Truitt is an amazing man.  He was my host, the person who invited me to go out last spring, and the man most directly responsible for the fact the there is All-State guitar in new Mexico at all.  He and his colleagues Mickey Jones and Jeremy Mayne are doing simply miraculous things at the Albuquerque Academy, and I was honored and inspired to be around them.  Oh and they’re the nicest people in the whole world, too.

I think the combination of hard work, intense deadline pressure, tons of new young people to work with, etc. made the whole thing particularly emotionally intense as well.  For several days after the trip I told anyone who asked that the experience was transformative for me – it truly was.  I came back a changed person.

I’ve gotten some incredible feedback since my return.  One colleague wrote:

“Your contribution went so far beyond the visible and the audible…the good will that your visit and your work engendered will last so, so long!  the life of our initiative was given such a push by your work.  the kids daily remind me of why I love this stuff, but your visit went further than that.  It all came together.  We were much greater than the sum of our parts…”

And a student, who also asked for advice about a career in music wrote:

“I was a participant in the New Mexico Guitar All State this year. I was in the guitar two group…I really was moved by your love for the music, and your aptness to teach us, a group of strangers. I wanted to let you know that I deeply appreciate it. It was the biggest performance I had ever been a part of and it meant a lot to me…I just met you for the first time on Wednesday, but I look up to you. You are an inspiration to me and I would like to thank you so much for everything this week. It truly will be a memory I will never forget…”

These are just a few little examples.  I feel so incredibly fortunate to have have the experience I did, and I’m incredibly thankful to each and every student, director, administrator and parent that helped make it all happen.  Here are some pictures:

Here's a great shot of some of the kids during a rehearsal.

And here I am doing something important - I'm sure of it!

Here we are during our dress rehearsal on stage.

More Dress Rehearsal!

Here's what our dress rehearsal looked like from the hall!

After the concert we snapped this shot with the students and profs from Albuquerque Academy!

And last, a shot from the actual performance! The kids did great!

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