As a musician, I was always slightly embarrassed to admit I had never been to Nashville, Tennessee. Maybe not as shameful as admitting to never having been to New York City (who, me?) but I had just never had the opportunity to visit. My chance finally came last month when one of my students was accepted in to the National Association for Music Educators’ (NAfME) All-National Honor Choir.
When I first learned about the All-National Honor Choir last spring, I shared the information with one of my outstanding singers, Keshav. He was a sophomore at the time and was eligible to apply after he made it in to the All-State Choir. After discussing the program with his parents, he decided that he really wanted to be a part of this. After completing the application and sending in an audition video, we waited about six weeks before receiving the news that he had been accepted.
Keshav spent four days in Nashville with other outstanding musicians from across the country. He spent many hours in rehearsal with the choir, but he also had the chance to hear concerts by groups brought in by NAfME. He stayed with the other singers at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and performed with the Honor Choir on stage at the Grand Ole Opry.
I could not work out my schedule to be in Nashville for the entire NAfME Conference, but I did not want to miss the final concert. I invited my best friend and fellow music nerd Amanda to make a whirlwind road trip to Nashville. We left on Tuesday afternoon to make it in to the city just before dark. We stayed in The Gulch and had dinner at a really fun place called Whiskey Kitchen. Great food, great atmosphere. The place was growing crowded as the night wore on, so as we left we were bumping in to all sorts of people, including John Corbett. My first run-in with a movie star! I was totally unprepared. I didn’t know his name right off, but I quickly recognized his face from “Serendipity” and “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” From then on I was convinced there were celebrities everywhere in Nashville, on every street corner, and was certain I would run in to more. I kept my eyes wide open. Alas, on a Tuesday night, the town is pretty quiet and I did not have any more exciting run-ins. Finally Amanda and I trekked back to the hotel in the pouring rain and got some sleep.
The concert started at 9AM Wednesday with the All-National Jazz Band. We had fantastic seats. The Jazz Band was incredible and included a performer from Jazz at Lincoln Center.
The All-National Honor Choir followed the Jazz Band, and their concert was truly impressive. Afterwards, I was able to find my student to congratulate him. He was on cloud nine and was having to say goodbye to all sorts of new friends he had made. It made me a little nostalgic for my own All-State Chorus experiences as a kid. I love having the opportunity to introduce my students to these experiences just as my teachers did for me when I was a student.
I fell in love with Nashville, and cannot wait to return. Next time my plan is to stay for a little longer than 18 hours. That would be nice.