i never wanted to be a teacher

never.  nor did my parents want me to be one, in fact, they discouraged it.

my first recollections of wanting a job were when i was five (i don’t remember much before this age about anything).  i wanted to play piano in the pit orchestra for the carol burnett show.  i begged for lessons.  for several years.  by the time i got them (summer between 3rd/4th grade) her show was in decline if not already in reruns.

next i wanted to be a vet.  i love animals.  my talented and gifted program put me with a local vet’s office once every other week for a couple hours during school in fifth grade.  it was amazing.  one of the last times i got to go, i watched a dog get spayed.  i stood in the corner and watched, and suddenly a car was backing out next door and i turned to watch it out the window and passed out.  when i came to, they asked if i was ok, and of course i was, so they let me help stitch the dog up.  i wanted to be a vet for the longest time.  then one day i was dog sitting across town for some pretty large dogs.  some feral kittens wandered into the yard while the dogs were out of their cages.  one dog caught a kitten and snapped its neck.  i grabbed the dog and shook it and made it drop the kitten and then sat there holding the kitten and sobbing for the longest time.  that was when i knew i wouldn’t be able to be a vet.  i knew i wouldn’t be able to handle killing an animal, or, not being able to save them all.

this led me to mortuary science.  through most of junior high and all of high school i wanted to be a mortician, or maybe a pathologist.  i loved math and science.  i loved dissection.  my parents had gotten me a dissecting kit and a science lab with huge grasshoppers, crickets, and a frog.  my neighbor would bring me pheasant heads after hunting.  in fifth grade we dissected pig lungs, and in sixth pig hearts.  my parents got the teacher to give me the extras, which we stored in our freezer so i could dissect in the summer.  in high school we did fetal pigs, frogs, fish, and eventually cats.  then i got the extra cats from both the high school and the local college.  my senior year i took anatomy and physiology.  at the end of the semester the teacher had some boys in the class come out to his farm and catch pigeons.  the next day we anesthetized them, cracked open their chests, watched their hearts beat, and then put them to sleep.  where to go to obtain this degree?  eastern new mexico in portales.  i got accepted and tuition reduced to in-state.

musically i flourished at the piano.  the teacher i started with my first year scared me to death and i already read treble clef when i started so it was easy for me for a long time.  and i practiced, or i should say, my parents made sure i practiced.  after about a year, this teacher moved.  i then started taking with ruth garrett, as her only private student.  she was the organist at our church, taught at the local community college, and had been a julliard grad.  i took hour lessons (sometimes half of that was playing chess) and practiced an hour a day.  i could learn music pretty fast.  in 7th grade i was asked to accompany the choir at the christian church (not my church) and i accepted.  the agreement was that the director would get me music a week or so ahead of time.  she didn’t, and when i was slow to sight-read, she would come over and play and say “this is how it is supposed to sound”…that got old after about two weeks, so i started just grabbing choral music (and at the advice of my teacher, hymns) and practicing sight-reading every day.  that improved immensely.  sight-reading was my new forte, and quickly got me eligible for many other gigs such as contest, musical, and wedding accompanying.  i played for all the high school musicals starting my sophomore year (freshmen were at the junior high).  i played for all choral concerts starting my 8th grade year.  i played for summer community theatre in both my hometown and a neighboring town.  i played now for the adult choir at the christian church and soon the youth choir.

i also had become quite a tennis player.  i started in 5th grade and sucked majorly.  no eye/hand coordination at all.  in 6th grade i would go to my mom’s evening lesson and hit against the fence, and then the backboard for the hour.  i got really good.  started entering tournaments.  it was not uncommon from 7th grade on to have summer weekends be tournaments…singles, mixed doubles, and sometimes doubles too.  sometimes when i’d win (which was most of the time in my age group–and sometimes when i played up) i’d have played 12 matches in a day.  in high school i played number 1 on the team from the second match on as a freshman…beating out my summer tennis instructor in challenge matches.  that next summer i was the new instructor for parks and rec.  i went to state 3 years in singles.  tennis was an unclassed sport at the time, meaning there was no 1a, 2a, etc., everyone was thrown in together.  my freshman year i won sectionals and then got beat at districts in a 3 hour 3 set match against a senior from atlantic i think (might have been red oak).  so northwest, the school i would end up going to, recruited me for their tennis team.  i had a tennis scholarship offer.

my senior year of high school we had a student teacher for choir.  jennifer walker from red oak, a nw student.  i had already been offered one scholarship, and then found out i got a full-ride presidential scholarship to nw as well.  i didn’t really want to go there as they didn’t have a mortuary science program, but new mexico didn’t have a tennis team.  jennifer strongly encouraged me to consider music.  she said nw didn’t have any pianists as strong as me as far as accompanying.  i went and auditioned for music scholarships and got a piano scholarship (i auditioned for a voice scholarship as well, and the student who played for me was a horrible accompanist).  the voice faculty knew nothing of me as i wasn’t a music camper…i wasn’t one of the “weymuth” recruits (although i had played for a corner conference choir he directed my freshman year of high school).  jennifer said with my tennis teaching experience, work with contest people, and natural instincts that i would make a great teacher.  back then i was a sucker for compliments, humble as i was.  so i decided to start at northwest and at least knock off gen eds with a full-ride (in fact for two years, nw paid me to go to school–then they got smart and said once you capped out tuition, room and board, everything else that wasn’t a private scholarship was just forfeited–at that time i gave up my tennis scholarship at that point so their budget wouldn’t just “lose” that money–not a great move as soon after i lost my piano scholarship–story for a different day) which would also take heat off my parents as they also had my brother to worry about.

tennis….tennis and money….those were the deciding factors.  and i got caught up in the department so i never transferred.  my high school choral teacher had called mr. mitchell who conducted tower choir and suggested he audition me as the accompanist.  apparently my audition went really well as i was declared the new accompanist as a freshman.  that year i also played for the chorale, jazz band, and celebration.  i played two senior recitals and a graduate recital, and lessons for 30+ other people.  the only thing i wasn’t allowed to do was play for the musical “my fair lady” as the chair decided that shouldn’t be a student (much to the dismay of chuck and patty schultz, both of whom voiced their dissent with that decision).  sometimes when i get down i remember that esther minter repeatedly tells me that patty told her i was the best sight-reader she had ever encountered.

anyway, i got a bachelors and really didn’t want to teach so i stayed and got a free masters as well.  and then i decided i had to do what i had spent five years of my life working toward…


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