Monday, December 14, 2020

1978 - Lessons in Orchestral Maneuvers

It's All About the Bass

 (Fifty Nifty Years in United States Series)

(This entry I wrote as a letter of gratitude to my orchestra conductor and leader.)

Dear Mr. Hoolihan (Emmett Hoolihan) - I am writing today because this year, I am celebrating 50 years (now 52) in the United States since coming from Brasil when I was 4 years old. I am challenging myself to write to different people who had a great influence in my life for each different year.

So in 8th grade, I was accidentally placed in Orchestra class at Oak Avenue School (in California) by some fluke of the modern computer era. You thoughtfully told me to hang out for a week or so until the back log of folks got thru the office with changes.

I am not sure if this was deliberate on your part or not, but I did and in that short time you convinced me to take up playing the bass. I was challenged and was accepted into the group. 

Bill Heinen and Reed Gilchrist helped me along as well and later Rich Hollinger as well as Mike Perini and Sue Brown.

I am so grateful for that welcome and being a part of something that allowed me to express myself in a way I had never had before. I always had an appreciation for music and you helped me learn how to grow through that appreciation. If it where not for the experience, I would never have been able to know what it is like to get lost in the music.

To this day I have that feeling of immersion that you so skillfully allowed me to find. Our time together ended and I look back at that time as one where a teacher pushed me into a area that I would never had thought I would go – the lesson of a teacher that has inspired me in so many ways.

I have had the opportunity to spend the majority of my adult life teaching (through experiential education in camp settings and music has always been a big part of that) to over 53,000 young people.

I aspire to have an influence on just one of them like the influence you had on my young life. For that I am grateful. And I thank you – and think to myself, how wonderful to be in America.

Warmest regards, Al Ferreira

Post Script - Bob Ross said it best. "There are no mistakes, only happy accidents."

When I wrote this I believed I would use this format for each of my folks who influenced me on a 50 year journey. I quickly changed the format to the format of having an idea, which led to a story and the "solution" that I found in the lessons. As the song stated "I need you now like I need you then" and each lesson and individual has been a reminder of the work as well as the journey. I know that it references a love song and I know that if I could I would do it all again and would not let go of these memories at any price. I remain grateful to the computer error and to Mr. Hoolihan and the other individuals mentioned above.

Emmett Hoolihan


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