I grew up in a time when an arts education was the pride of every community, whether in public schools or in the public square, and I was encouraged to participate in all of it.
Piano lessons began in first grade and over time, I actively pursued interests in many other areas: playing other instruments, in the needle arts, calligraphy & book arts, cooking, design, and collaborative arts projects.
We moved from Pennsylvania to Ohio when I was ten, into a community with a much larger pool of arts offerings and abundant opportunities to try new and different things. Suddenly, I was in my element! We moved again when I was fourteen, just before starting high school, to Massachusetts. But, the nascent arts and music programming in the school left me feeling defeated and frustrated and, initially, resentful, what with no big choruses to sing in or musicals to perform in.
Surprisingly, what ended up happening was that I became part of the group that built and led the music program there. Singing in newly established a capella and concert choral groups and learning to play a range of styles and instruments: piano in jazz band; oboe in concert band; trombone in the marching band. I pushed for courses in theory, harmony, and solfege, taking every elective that was ultimately offered and inviting others to join me. I was student conductor for concert band and took to arranging and transcribing Bach two- and three-part keyboard Inventions for brass and woodwind. I sang in District and All-State Choruses and was a founding member of an elite ensemble of high school vocal and instrumental musicians that met every Sunday at Northeastern University for an afternoon of rehearsing original jazz and popular arrangements that we then performed in Symphony Hall and at other venues across the Commonwealth.
Despite the paucity of music and arts programming initially offered in my high school, lo those many years ago, what was offered got me up and to school on the rainiest of days. The affect the arts has had on me throughout my life has been boundless, but it was in those early, formative years that I developed an attachment to them. They were a lifeline to me as we relocated from the rural mountains of PA, to urban, central OH, and then to the quiet, reserved community in MA.
A personal connection with arts, culture, and creativity has an immeasurable impact on one’s life and well-being, understanding of a society, and view of community. Among other things, my engagement has taught me patience, perspective, problem-solving, persistence, and the joy of self-expression.
Image credit: Screenshot of motif in a Glitchaus textile. Motif created with the 2005 adaptedSEGA system and embodies the original concepts and theories for Glitch Textiles that Glitchaus was established on.