Sometimes I get emails from the parents of former students asking me to put something together to commemorate their child’s success – usually, graduation from high school or college – because apparently I had made some kind of impact in their lives and it would mean something to them. (I’ve also been to a couple of pretty great college recitals, bat mitzvahs, and weddings as well.) This is always a huge honor for me.
The other day I came across an email I sent back in 2014 to a student who had decided, upon graduating from college with a degree in contemporary commercial music, that what she really wanted to do was to move to Los Angeles and be a comedy writer. Her mom asked me to write her a letter of encouragement to her, which she would be putting in a collection of messages called Life Instruction Book. This is what I wrote:
When I was a little kid, I thought the greatest jobs in the world were:
- Comedy Writer
- Advertising Copywriter
- Singing and Dancing Nanny
Yes, I was a fan of the Dick Van Dyke Show, Bewitched and Mary Poppins (especially since the star of the latter got to dance with the star of the first one). I am so excited that you are pursuing your dream – even if that dream has changed along the way – but life throws us curveballs sometimes. I hope you’ll keep singing, because, as my teacher always said, “If you have the voice, you have no choice,” but know that I think what you’re doing is terrific and I hope it all works out for you! I am and will always be so proud of having had you as a student.
Very little has changed since my childhood. I still think those are three of the greatest jobs in the world. And I still love Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews.
However, I have transferred my advertising copywriter affection from the late Dick York over to Mad Men‘s Jon Hamm.
Maria (the recipient of the above email) is still singing, and she’s doing some writing as well, plus she’s just scored a sweet gig working for Soundcloud. Speaking of Soundcloud, here’s a recording of her covering a Sara Bareilles song, “Dear Hope” (with her brother, composer Dan Waldkirch, at the keyboard). Have a listen:
If you want to hear more (covers and originals) from Maria and Dan, as well as some of their collaborators, check out their Soundcloud page, Strange Battery.
Another one of my more recent students, Olive DeVille, just graduated from the vocal prime program at Carver Center of Arts & Technology, and is headed out to Long Island University to begin her BFA in Musical Theatre. You might remember Olive from the recent What To Know/What I WISH I’d Known About College Auditions panel discussion, for which she was one of the panelists.
Her parents put together a similar project to the one Maria’s mom did back in 2014, but with a video component rather than print. I was very honored to put together a video for her, and I decided to do one of my favorite songs, but with words specific to the 5+ years that Olive and I worked together.
I am honored to work with each and every one of my students, whether they go into music or not. And I am glad for “what we’ve done and what’s to come.” I can’t wait to see what else Maria, and Olive, and Juliet, and Julia, and Maureen, and Matt, and Sasha, and Ella, and Sela, and … wait, I can’t write all their names. But I can’t wait to see what they’re going to do, whether it’s in the arts, or politics, or medicine, or business, or whatever.
Because they’ve all had an impact on me. More than they could ever imagine.