Dedication, Dharma & Decade-long Relationships...

Sitting in the Choir Room at the Tigard High Music Department early last week, it was easy to imagine who to blog about this month.

Every year (since the late 90's we estimated) I get a call from one of the few schools I know that pick quality over quantity for "team photos" if-you-will. This is not a service I tend to offer, because it is a great deal more work for these small amounts of money. It can only be offered cheap when you get "hourly shooters" thus random results.

Instead, Choir Instructor Sue Hale & Band Director Jim Irving opt for something just a tad bit higher, but a WHOLE lot more custom. Beyond this benefit to me, is the most important element - how they benefit their students with THEIR craft and passion.

I grew up in Pendleton, went to Pendleton High School and confess to be a late-starting band geek.

I didn't desire to be in the drum section until my sophomore year, too late to get a snare to call my own.

I was instead HEAVILY influenced with some over-the-top enthusiasm by my instructor to join anyhow. "You can play the cymbals, and we really need someone!". "That would be a 'no'..." was my obvious expression, but this instructor (Mr. Herbig ?sp) had a contagious passion, pulled out a catalog, and showed me these "cool swivel handles, that will allow you to spin them while marching".

I'd like to say I'm above chasing after shiny objects, but his energy was inescapable for me - I said yes and I joined. That put me in a league of die-hard perfectionism with that particular drum section. Why?, because it just so happened that our co-major was none other than "Mr. Irving", the now-instructor at Tigard High. (Yes, he is THAT young - students who are reading this!)

The day we bumped into each other, I was leaving the football field at Tigard, cameras dangling, just as Jim was entering the field with a marching band behind him. After 20+ years, it was a "pinch me" moment, as I audibly said - "Of course!.. Of course


is what you're doing..."

I'd never seen a student more passionate than Jim and his other co-major Jim (yes, two guys named Jim). It made PERFECT sense to see him instructing music for a living, and given my performance in band, and likely a reciprocal response for him. We grew up just two houses from each other for most of our childhood - likely he saw me more as photographer than professional cymbal player - ha!)

Each year as I set up for the shoot in the Choir room, I get to listen to more than just the instruction of his peer Sue Hale. The way she speaks to her choir students is more than just encouraging, she conveys that she cares as much about the students' growth as she does for the results.

Her quest for perfectionism is likely only troubling to someone who thought singing would somehow be an easy grade. I have not seen a higher level of commitment anywhere, than I have of these two instructors that I've worked with for over 15 years! In that amount of time, doing 2-3 full day shoots, I've had many "behind the scene" moments to see just how much she too cares about her kids and craft.

I could easily go on, but would be preaching to the choir. (oh - snare, snare high-hat - budda ching!)

While I was there last week, I saw a sparkly new, custom-painted music stand gifted to her from the Class of 2013. If that doesn't say it all...  (big shout to their Orchestra and Guitar instructors - I just haven't worked with them as long - sorry)

I am grateful to ANY client that will keep me on their radar for this long, but it makes me feel even better to know that there are teachers of this caliber clearly pursuing their dharma.

While many of their beneficiaries may not yet know, they are receiving some of the most dedicated training they will ever receive from Mr. Irving and Mrs. Hale.

Brian GerathsComment