My Mom bought an old fire engine red upright piano when I was about one year old. As soon as I could crawl, (so weird they took pictures of it) I would head over to the piano and stand on my tip toes to reach the keys. I would not leave it alone according to my parents. At five, I started piano lessons with a neighborhood Teacher, Mrs. Olson, down the block. By age 7, she suggested that my parents send me to McPhail. I stayed at McPhail, taking lessons from my main piano Teacher Ms. Dorothy Rast and also took lessons from Oxana Brynn (voice), Jimmy Vnak (jazz piano) and a few guitar lessons from a Teacher named Freeman. After a few guitar lessons, she said, 'why are you here?, you know what you're doing.' I also took lessons at my respective colleges at the same time from Dr. Dahlin(piano) and Susan Lehner(voice) at North Henn. and Katherine Hennig(voice) at Augsburg, along with choral from Leland Sateren, and the Symphonic Chorus at UofM. I also joined the Minnesota Choral and began directing Choir, Youth Choir and Bell Choir at Parkway Church and then North United Methodist. I love teaching and hearing my choirs and students perform. It is liken to someone that makes a lovely art work and then gets to stand back and look at it, only I am privileged to listen to it. Oops, sorry, I went on a bit long.I had helped form a for profit music school quite a few years ago and it went along well, but I was not reaching the students that I wanted to work with. Now numerically, a Senior Citizen, I wanted to give back to the North Minneapolis that I grew up in and live in, by giving back the gift of music that I had been given. It is the only thing that I can give and I know how much it has done for me and people around me in the really wonderful times of life and the really low spots of life. There is nothing even close to the magic that happens when a Teacher places a 'real live' music instrument in a Students hands for the first time. It's incredible. There is nothing more rewarding then seeing that Student grow so much, that they supersede the Teacher. We never get enough of seeing this process happen at Hopewell.Working specifically in MPS's, or Charter schools, I could only teach a given age level. At my churches, I could only utilize one genre of music. (no boogie woogie's?) When my colleagues and I discussed the idea of starting a non profit to insure that we could ALWAYS help very low income students, to give them the same chance at music as more affluent children, it seemed like a no brainer issue of justice and equality. So, on a snowy Winter day, we created Hopewell. We have heard the echo, 'not sustainable' in the background of the creation, but are determined to just keep moving on with this dream of music for all. It's only right. I like working with all ages of people and persons with all abilities, and love having them all perform music together. It is lovely to hear the blend of all different levels and ages. This creates such a 'warm' sound. 'Human kinds' voice, if you will. This is what is happening with the Community Choir and Orchestra, Jazz Ensemble, Peace Choir and Flute Choir. THIS is what I wanted to do with music towards the end of my life. Yeah, we've got it right. The FIRST Founders Day, when Ellie picked up her baton and started the FIRST Orchestra of Hopewell. I started crying at the first down beat because it was the dream come to fruition. The boops and squeaks and the lovely tones were all mixed together and it was like music from heaven. That was incredible. There is NO WAY that we can do this non profit music school unless we do it all together. ALL of us. I'm crying now just remembering it. No matter what a person will be doing as a job for their life goal, music will fit into that life. Music should be an equal opportunity ground for everyone. My Grandmother used to say that the best singer in her town was the fellow who made sausages in the local meat market. There is no special 'package' that a musician comes in. Therefore musical ability can be in anyone. Since music is an emotional giving of a person, everyone, regardless of ability, financial stress, ethnic origin, gender, deserves the right to experience the need to bring out, create and share that music. There will be and have been many, many studies all throughout the World as to the benefits of music in everything from repair of the brain after damage to calming effects in babies. Therefore, there is a need to constantly understand what it is and 'why' it helps people and yet music, is constantly changing/evolving. Music is a fascinating and perplexing gift to personhood. I believe it is the key to people getting along, appreciating each other, living together. We could even say the key to peace. Hopewell has become a creative and giving place for all of it's Students, Teachers and Parents. Students have learned to create music with all of the unique persons in the Community. They come to appreciate each other through this language of music. The Students of all ages and styles also begin to learn other social aspects of how to communicate with others, They shed anxiety as they accomplish performance in front of Teachers, peers, relatives and friends and community. The Students perform in the community and become all around athletes in how to adjust to different age levels, surroundings, problematic situations with playing on various instruments and performance areas. (ex. outside performing much different than in a studio) Adults at Hopewell have helped Students with everything from finding housing to fixing instruments, homework help, even drivers training! Students begin to help Students with problems that they face. It is a very warm and special place for the Children and Adults of the Community. Everyone is able to have input in this non profit Music School as it evolves, grows, changes.I Teach at Hopewell because it is so very important to be able to provide musical training, an instrument and music for ANYONE that desires to accomplish an instrument and work on the art of performance, composition and empathetically creating music with others. Music and the accomplishment of an instrument, shouldn't just be something for the affluent, it should be for everyone.
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