Everyone longs to be a part of a community that is life-giving, but where do you start, and how do you find a group of people who share common interests to grow with, and share life with? Today, we’ll hear from three women– Sandra, Nancy, and Bobbie– who have been involved in music and the arts since their early years and will see why connecting youth with the arts might be the best thing for one’s future.
Every parent longs for their child to belong to a community that believes in and encourages them. As we meet people in the places we work and play, we notice those who have more joy and depth in their life, and often, the source is a life-giving community. But where does this community come from? Are some people simply lucky to stumble across a community and others don’t strike the same chord of luck?
True community seems hard to come by but when a child is nurtured by mentors, and spurred on by friends, transformation happens. We have seen over and over again that the arts community does exactly this. The music and arts community is a global community providing connections of breadth and depth around the world. It is a community that requires consistency, discipline, and creativity – all elements essential in helping children develop into successful adults.
We sat down with Sandra, Nancy, and Bobbie and asked them to reminisce and reflect on the richness the arts had brought them over the years.
Sandra’s family grew up in the mountains of Colorado an hour away from the closest city. Every week, from age 5 to 18, Sandra’s mother drove Sandra and her sisters one hour each way to piano lessons. Knowing the value and transformation the arts would bring to these young children, Sandra’s teacher refused to charge more than 50 cents per lesson.
Also from Fort Collins, Bobbie was a mathematics professor who never had any interest in pursuing piano as her main hobby. She played in numerous jazz events to get herself through college but thought she would later become a math professor. This all changed when Bobbie met a retired CSU piano teacher and decided to take lessons from him for the next 20 years. For Bobbie, getting involved in the arts was “an accident.” “I just stumbled onto a good teacher who changed what I did with my life.” From that point on,
a life of numbers was over — Bobbie knew she would be playing piano as the main focus of her life.
For Nancy piano lessons began at 6 years old: “As an adolescent I had the wonderful experience of seeing how the arts mesh in the larger world that we live in, both in the history that we come from, and our own involvement in that history. It was a realistic and active reality from a young age and once it becomes an active reality, you hang onto it.”
Nancy went on to get a Master’s Degree in organ performance and spent much of her life playing professionally in churches and schools across the country. The richness of the music and community made a deep impression on Nancy forever.
Beyond all that these women have experienced through getting involved with the arts, they have felt as if they belong to something much larger than their own musical abilities. So much so that they sought to have music become a group involvement. Something that social brought them together. ‘People of Note’ was formed.
These women join together with a group of 15-18 people at each other’s homes once a month to enjoy company, chocolate, drinks, and of course piano. They simply take turns playing the piano, support one another’s efforts all while enjoying the joy of being together.
Many of the members of this group have developed even deeper friendships as they travel to Piano Camp in Bennington, Vermont held in a large mansion filled with over 30 pianos. Attending as “campers” each person helps out with household chores and takes lessons and practices piano for 4-5 hours a day.
Nancy said Piano Camp allows you the opportunity to meet people who are doing so many different things with their lives, but who are serious about music.
These three women, each of whom have been deeply involved in the music community for multiple decades, have been changed by music and they credit it to being connected to a community at a young age. Nancy mentioned, “the time to begin one’s exploration in music is while you’re young, because life closes in on you. When you’re young, you can make space for it and that is what builds the nucleus and the foundation from which the flower can flourish and be a part of the rest of your life.”
It is fascinating to see how three wonderful women have been changed by music, and not just by adding deep friendships, but by allowing music to deeply impact and even heal them. “There’s times when you just sit at the piano bench and play. You have no idea how much time passes, but it gives you a sense of peace, it gives you richness that can’t be experienced any other way,”Sandra continued as she talked about the importance of a place where
young people can express their emotions in increasingly busy and hectic lifestyles.
“There have been a couple times in my life, when you kind of get hit by a truck. Playing helped me clearly express my emotions. Sometimes it wasn’t peace, it was fire,” said Nancy. By being involved in the arts, Nancy had an outlet to express her pain, but also a community to be there with her in that pain.
At Off the Hook Arts, we want to see more young people grow up to be like a Bobbie, Nancy, and Sandra. These ladies are grateful for the richness music has brought to their lives. By focusing on providing music education for children in Northern Colorado, we are giving them an opportunity to build a foundation that holds richness, value, and belonging.
Giving children the opportunity to fall in love with the arts connects them to a global community. Just as Sandra said, “We all underestimate the gift music is to other people.” We believe this with all our heart. Music changes not only the musician, but it brings life and hope to a community.
What if your involvement could give a child the opportunity to join an encouraging and life-giving community? By partnering with Off the Hook, you can invest in another’s future in a way that fuels impact and keeps on giving back.