Sunday, May 16, 2010

Dear Director...

An open letter to Maryann Flock

Dear Maryann,

Hard to believe that we, the Concert Band of Benedictine University, have completed yet another school year, yet another graduation ceremony......

This year was my tenth as a community member under your direction, though it seems like yesterday when we first spoke. I can still remember my wife telling me the name of the stranger on the line as she passed me the phone, how you explained that you'd been given my name by another community musician and wondered if I'd be willing to pick up my clarinet again for the first time in almost twenty years.

Since that fateful day back in August of 2000, I've had the honor of learning under your direction, just as your many students have. And, while I have no doubt you've helped me grow as an amateur musician as I fumbled through whatever woodwind parts you needed covered, my growth has been nothing compared to the transformation of your students, year after year, for more than a decade.

Every Fall, fresh young faces arrived, looking for guidance and encouragement, unsure of what their new college experience might entail. And every Fall, the transformations began... Aided by a teacher who offered a ready ear and realized that listening can impact learning more than tutorials or lectures; a teacher who attended her student's games and cheered them on; a teacher students knew was only a cell phone call away; a teacher who, year after year, sent graduating seniors off on their next adventure with more than a diploma; a teacher who'll be remembered far beyond the band room, as the former 'fresh faces' leave the confines of Benedictine University as confident, young adults.

Considering the positive impact you've had on so many of Benedictine's finest, it's amazing to consider in hindsight all the many challenges you've taken in stride, refusing to allow adverse situations to negatively impact the lives of your students. My own recollections include a director who barely took time for a quick sandwich between back-to-back rehearsals, who lead past BU ensembles in St. Patrick's Day parades in the freezing cold, who directed concerts while eight months pregnant, conducted on stages so dilapidated you had to watch for the holes, and who kept a positive attitude even after losing her ensemble's permanent rehearsal space and being bounced between four other temporary facilities in subsequent years.

I suppose that, were I asked to offer an opinion as to how you not only managed to keep Benedictine University's Concert Band program moving forward through such adversity, but also managed to grow student participation more than sixfold, your enthusiasm would be what first came to mind. I further believe that it's primarily due to such enthusiasm that my most vivid memories of my 'Benedictine years' will likely be of candlelit Lessons and Carols services or the diverse themes of the many Winter and Spring concerts, not of uneven floors, creaky elevators, or the smell of chlorine.

It's been both an honor and a privilege, Professor Flock.


Timothy R. Nunes
Former BUCB Community Musician, 2000-2010

Composed & posted via my iPad

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