Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Memories and reminiscing...

I'm going to see my former choir director from my freshman year of high school play in Mount Prospect tonight with his blues band.

It was *supposed* to be NEXT Wednesday, but somehow... either I just had a major brain fart, or I missed the "memo."  No biggie.

The REAL biggie is that he lives in Richmond, VA.  So the fact that he's going to be a short car trip away?  FANTASTIC.

You see, Taggart (okay, so we were SUPPOSED to call him Mr. Taggart, but, well... you'll understand the lack of applied conformity here soon.) wasn't what you'd call 'conventional.'  He wore a tie-dyed t-shirt and jeans to work almost every day.  You'd find him in the hallways during passing period and times when he didn't have a class, sitting in the middle of the hallway, strumming away on his acoustic.  He had long, unkempt, CURLY dark hair, and you could spot his "Five O'Clock Shadow" from half a mile away.

He was our "rocker."  He was an idol.  He was just plain FUN.

It really was Taggart's drive for music that got me so completely into it, myself.  While I learned over the years following his leave (I only had him for my freshman year before he quit and moved) that, okay, maybe he wasn't the greatest CHOIR director when it came to teaching styles... he definitely still makes my top 5 best teachers list.  He was fun, freespirited, and most of all, compassionate and caring.

Never have I known another "non-special education" teacher that really, truly adored and made so much effort to work with some of the most difficult students to teach.  It was amazing.

You see, at the time I started high school, my Mom *taught* in the same building.  But she taught special education.  Some of them with pretty obvious and tangible needs.  But when they walked through the door to his classroom, all bets were off.  He'd have them singing, clapping, and laughing right along with him as he gave them a break from struggling with school to just plain enjoying themsleves and having a great time.

The funny thing is, that when I was in 7th or 8th grade, I was in a summer band camp.  (One time, at band camp... ROFL)  Yes, I know - it just SCREAMS geek, doesn't it?  But really, our shit ROCKED.  C'mon - we learned a huge Looney Tunes medley!  hehe  Anyways, I remember showing up a little early one day to find this hippie-looking, scruffy guy trying to tell a bandmate of mine a way to get better sound from her trumpet.  And it WASN'T our band director.  I could tell by the look on HER face that she didn't know who the hell he was, either - but here he was, all up on her instrument... and making us all wonder who let the homeless guy in off the street.

The school year started, I walked into my freshman Choir class... and lo and behold... there was our "bum."  =P

The next year forged a deep, intimate love of music in me that had only been a few smoldering embers here and there before.  Sure!  I played piano, clarinet... but this?  This was DEEP love for the music that was coming from within me, using no instrument other than my breath and my own voice.  I was addicted.

I haven't seen Taggart since 1996.  I just recently started talking to him again, after having lost touch when they changed locations within Virginia - but actually used to email and call back and forth every so often until that point.  He's just someone that I kinda bonded with, on more than a "teacher-student" level. 

Here's to great memories, and rekindling a friendship that maybe only music could find...  even though he's old enough to be my dad, I'm so proud of the fact that he is making a living by doing nothing but PERFORMING.  He has always been a great musician, and now I get to dedicate some of my time doing nothing but supporting that fact.

If you have the chance - check out his website: Chicago Cy

Here's to what should be a great night!  (And a break from what has been my HELL the last 2 days!)


I'm so excited, I just can't stand it!  He

3 Harmonizations:

Kari said...

He sounds like he was a very special teacher! I have to admit that I too went to band camp in 8th grade. I played percussion.
Have a great time!

Larissa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Larissa said...

Hooray for band camp geeks! ROFL!