Long-time readers of The Daily Parker know that I don't usually discuss my personal life. Sometimes, however, I have an experience that doesn't involve Parker (except for putting him in his crate on a rainy weekend day), that moves me to break that rule.
On Saturday, I and about 100 other alumni of Glenbrook North High School wished our choir director, Judy Moe, a happy retirement. She and David Walter (the music department chair while I was there) taught me more about music than anyone since. Their training made it possible for me to have experiences that few people ever have, like singing at Lincoln Center at the Mostly Mozart festivals in 1998 and 1999. And together they gave me an understanding of music and a place in the world that—no exaggeration—helped me survive high school.
Judy (I can call her that now, she insists) watched me grow up, patiently guiding me through what was, for everyone around me, a particularly annoying phase (Mom: remember Sophomore year? Yeah, I was afraid of that). She also had the foresight and practicality to give me a job as her assistant for my last two years of high school, even, somehow, convincing me to inventory the entire Glenbrook North music library. This latter project involved comandeering a computer (this was 1986, so the computer was an Apple //e) and giving me the key to the music library. If I recall, there were over 700 titles to inventory, so this kept me off the streets for about a month.
During the concert I stood next to a soprano who graduated only last year. She never knew Dave Walter, being only six years old when he retired in 1994. But this soprano had gone through four years of Judy Moe's teaching, had learned the same songs everyone at GBN has ever learned, and had all the hallmarks of a Glenbrook North-trained singer. She found herself better trained than many of the college seniors she sang with, which is a surprisingly common experience with Judy's students. As we finished the dress rehearsal she absently suggested we'd see each other at the next alumni choir (there have been five since I graduated), but I realized when she said it that for we who graduated in the 1980s, Judy's was the last one.
I didn't hear about David's retirement until much later. I'm glad I got to see Judy's. After 19 years, the two of them still mean more to me than they'll ever know.