Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Letter to my High School Band Teacher

Dear Mrs. Bailey,

It’s been a long time since I’ve thought about playing in the band. In the past few days it has all come back to me quite clearly. I’m in Nicaragua for July taking a summer community arts class. We came to Esteli with the intention of making a short documentary. When it came time to decide on a subject we voted nearly unanimously for the Youth Orchestra we had visited the day before. 

There are around fifty students taking lessons and playing in what used to be government buildings under the Somoza dictatorship. I thought about you yesterday when we interviewed the conductor, Santaigo. Watching him teach reminded me of all the hours I spent in the trumpet section.

Even though I haven't pursued music I will never forget how wonderful it felt when we finally played something perfectly, I felt so proud telling people I played in a jazz band. Improvising terrified me and made me feel invincible at the same time. I think I’ve managed to find that same feeling in the visual arts, but the things you taught me are completely irreplaceable.

Music still has a place on my bucket list and in time I’m sure I will return to it. I think the four years I spent in your classroom reinforce why this documentary is so important. In Esteli, the band represents and incredible social transformation and the capacity of music to change the course of history. Generally speaking, an instrument is a profoundly powerful weapon to give a child. Whether we carried it or not you gave us such a brilliant beginning.

Sending hugs from Nicaragua,

Emma (Amelia)

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