Amarah's Corner: Pianist shares personal journey

Hi! My name is Amarah. Kids are important to me, and they’re important to Jesus, too.

Jesus said in Matthew 25:40 (KJV), “Whatever you’ve done unto the least of these (kids), you’ve done it unto me.”

“Kids like me” are kids and adults of all ages whose parents are, or were, drug addicts, and alcoholics; kids who have suffered, or who are suffering, abuse and neglect on multiple levels; and kids who are victims of bullying.

Hey, kids like me! My friend, Mr. Randy Macy, is the most awesome pianist, ever. I met him when I sang in the off Broadway play, “Opening Night” written by another special friend, Corliss Taylor Dunn! I asked Randy to tell you about himself and how he feels about music. Today, Part 3:

Amarah asked that I share a bit about music in my life. I started taking piano lessons in fifth grade - the same year I started taking band in school. I took lessons through eighth grade until my teacher, Mrs. Colville, retired. She felt teaching “playing by ear” important, which is probably one reason I continued to play piano on my own through high school.

In college, I continued to play piano for my own enjoyment. One day I was playing in a practice room when the piano professor stuck her head into the room and said, “Young man, you need to take piano lessons.” But my major was biology, not music and I wasn’t allowed to take private lessons. Because I could blow (certainly not play!) a trumpet, I got roped into playing in band and eventually became a double major - music and biology. I needed to pass piano proficiency my senior year and was allowed to take piano lessons first summer session between my junior and senior years of college. My first lesson was a total disaster. But, I worked hard for the next month and my teacher was impressed enough to ensure room in her fall schedule for lessons. I took lessons my senior year and for another year while working in Durango.

I then made the disastrous choice of attempting graduate school in music education.  Unfortunately I did not have the background to attempt such an endeavor. I completed all the coursework successfully and was able to take piano lessons; but, completing the degree was not in the cards. However, I don’t regret a single minute at Baylor.

Because there were no jobs in the Valley I moved to Denver and worked several odd jobs before getting a position with the state where I worked for 20 and 10 months. Even though I was working in higher education, and teaching one or two music classes a semester, no one felt any need to acknowledge - let alone nourish - my spirit. Nevertheless I was quite fortunate to have had a couple of church jobs on the side that allowed my spirit to be nurtured by music. I will especially be forever grateful to First Mennonite Church and the 14 years I was fortunate enough to make music with them.

In semi-retirement I find my musical life richly blessed. My friend, Dr. Sarah Off, also a Del Norte native, and I started a summer music conservatory three years ago that is growing. Mt. Blanca Summer Music Conservatory (MBSMC) aims to provide a very high quality and affordable music performance experience for young musicians. MBSMC helps students of all ages and abilities achieve their musical goals and nurture their passion for music! This program provides students and the community with exposure to the musical arts through quality music education and the inspiring experience of live performance. Sarah, I, friends from Denver, friends from the Valley, and students from the conservatory will be giving four performances of the 7th annual Concert of Carols in December - a show which is going to be better than ever! Proceeds from these concerts provide scholarships for students to attend the summer music conservatory. A retired Broadway singer, Corliss Taylor Dunn, lives not too far from me, and I never dreamed I would get to work on a regular basis with such an amazing talent. (Amarah can attest to Corliss’ talents as she performed in Corliss’ original musical a couple of summers ago doing a great job and blossoming musically)! I am now in my fifth year as a collaborative pianist at ASU.  The academic musical environment is drastically different than the church musical environment and has proven to be quite challenging yet very rewarding.

May all readers find ways in which to nourish their spirits not only through music, but through any of the arts which have the ability to do so.

Thank You, Randy! And, thank you for reading my column. Write to me at Amarah’s “Kids Like Me” P.O. Box 354, Alamosa, CO 81101. If you know a kid like me, or parent, who doesn’t have a Bible, but wants one, please, contact me. I’ll make sure he/she gets a Bible, “…and all the earth may know there is a God…” (1 Samuel 17:46, KJV). Until next time, remember, Jesus Loves You, and JESUS IS LORD!