And just think playing music will finally be your real career! -Libba, from Disney*Pixar Soul
We watched the new Disney*Pixar film Soul last night. All three of us are musicians. Two of us are teachers. And all three of us are students as well. That’s the way it is with music: you’re always a student. The film is full of insight about music and life, and vividly depicts the excitement of a pianist who at long last is tasting a certain kind of joy that comes with live performance.
During the pandemic those moments for performers have had to be curtailed or transformed. One such event was this one:
Alex Brown, 2005 graduate of Wilde Lake High School, Visiting Artist in Jazz Studies at the Peabody Institute, 2018-2019
Sean Jones, trumpet, Richard and Elizabeth Case Chair in Jazz Studies, Peabody Conservatory since 2018
A holiday live-stream concert from An Die Musik in Baltimore.
One of the sweetest and most intense joys experienced by musician Joe Gardner in Soul is the opportunity to engage with and be recognized by his musical peers. I imagine he feels something like WLHS Band Director Saul Green must have felt when he heard this part of the live-stream event:
Going to do that shout-out again to my man Saul Green, from Wilde Lake. While he’s the Director of the Wilde Lake Band Program, we appreciate all the educators that have done, wow, an amazing job this year in adapting. Some of you have had to rewrite your entire curriculums. Some of you had to learn new technologies, new platforms, you’re working harder than you ever have and I just want to commend all the educators for sticking with it, being there for the students. We truly appreciate you. In my opinion you are front-line workers. You have to deal with the students, not just their grades and their education, but also their mental state of mind during this time which is very challenging. And so I commend you, thank you for all that you do.
Lord knows we need more teachers in this world. -Libba, Disney*Pixar Soul
Jones had been slated to be the soloist for last January’s Jazz at the Lake, an annual fundraiser for Wilde Lake High School Band programs. He’s the president of the Jazz Education Network, as well as the director of the Carnegie Hall NYO Jazz Program. Both Jones and Brown are involved with the local jazz scene, and have been playing concerts both at An Die Musik and Keystone Korner - - pre- and during - - the pandemic.
Jones, who is committed to bringing awareness to jazz in Baltimore, took the time to share this larger message with his live-stream audience about how teachers are making a difference through their work during distance learning. He would know. During the summer his NYO Jazz program transformed into a completely digital one. You can enjoy one of their performances here:
Fun piece of trivia: this video also features audio work by Alex Brown. Gotta love how these musicians work together on behalf of their students.
Getting a shout-out from the podium is sweet. It can definitely lift you up and give you that moment of validation when those long, long hours of work feel as though they might be invisible to others and your sense of progress is, well, muted. But that’s not why teachers do it. It’s not why musicians do it. Not for the recognition. Not for the shout-out.
If you’ve seen Soul you might say it has something to do with a spark.
Take a listen for yourself.