Call me what you will, but I love school. And college. Something about the atmosphere- the air of possibility, the solidarity amongst students, the smell of a much-anticipated lunch break- makes me feel energized. I think that the reason I celebrate education is because I can look back on mine fondly- and I’ve spent enough time with students know that’s a pretty rare thing. I count myself extremely lucky to have had some many great teachers and professors who were truly role models, and their lessons have become part of the fabric of my life.
As a college student, my home was in the music department. Between lessons, practice sessions, performances and assignments I and many others ate, studied, worked, and sometimes even napped there. Naturally, there was a great camaraderie about the place, which was aided by the teaching staff who, thankfully, all had a good sense of humor. One memory which never fails to bring a smile to my face was that of choral groups or classes, learning a new piece. As the group found themselves muddled up in a particularly difficult phrase, a resonant voice would boom, ‘Onward!’ above the din. It was the choir director, reminding them to keep at it, and keep going. The phrase quickly became our mantra as we tackled challenging arrangements, busy schedules, and exams. Around the music building it was never unusual hear someone shout, ‘Onward!’ in the midst of a conversation or a rehearsal.
This week I received the sad news that our colorful, cherished professor has passed away. As I took a moment to recall my memories of him this was, of course, the first one that came to mind. I thought about how frequently I use the phrase he coined. Anyone who knows me well or reads my social media posts will know that it’s become a regular part of my daily conversation; a reminder not just in the world of music, but in life, to keep at it and keep going.
Thank you Dr. Tweed for that valuable lesson. It has served me and many others well, and we will truly treasure the things you taught us- in music, and in life. I think that, when all is said and done, if you have given someone else some tools for the road ahead you know you’ve done a pretty darn good job of it.