Minnesota School Of Music - November 2018

11. 2018 (763) 432-9713 www.mnschoolofmusic.com

... AND SAVED ME FROM BECOMING A DROPOUT THE PHONE CALL THAT CHANGED MY LIFE THE MONTHLY MUSICIAN

W ell, it’s beginning to look and feel a lot more like late fall in Minnesota, and I’m sure many of our readers are getting ready for Thanksgiving. While writing these introductions to our newsletter, I’ve come to realize that this article has become my outlet for thanking the many friends, mentors, and family members who have gotten me where I am today. There are more people to thank than this one page can contain, but in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’d like to continue the trend by thanking someone who played a huge role in my career as a musician and a teacher. Anthony “Tony” Titus was my first guitar teacher when I attended Anoka-Ramsey Community College. At the time, I was pursuing an exercise science degree but thought guitar lessons would be a fun thing to do on the side. At first, I was no good. But Tony saw my potential even when I couldn’t, encouraging me by saying, “Hey, I think you’d be really good at this.” Now, this wasn’t Tony trying to get me to commit more time to studying with him at AR. In fact, he wanted to help me shift schools entirely in order to give me more opportunities to grow and learn as a musician. It was Tony who first encouraged me to apply to the University of St. Thomas. For a kid from the suburbs who was attending community college, a prestigious institution like UST felt far out of reach. But my guitar teacher had a plan.

The guitar ensemble at St. Thomas was made up of some truly talented musicians, and I quickly got the impression that I didn’t belong. These were valedictorians from all over the country who had been studying and practicing their whole lives in order to be there. How could a kid from Circle Pines who took guitar lessons on a whim hope to compete? Some sessions, I couldn’t even get out the first measure without “dorking it.” After a particularly bad ensemble rehearsal, I was ready to throw in the towel. I hopped into my car ready to drive home and rethink my life. I was supposed to have a lesson with Tony the next day, so I gave him a call to let him know I wouldn’t be coming. When he picked up, I said, “Hey, I’m done. I don’t belong here.” I was expecting sympathy, but Tony took a different route. “No, you’re not done.” His voice was calm but stern and almost paternal. “Other people have invested too much in you,” he reminded me. “ You’ve invested too much in you to quit now.” In that moment, I didn’t know what to say, but Tony did: “See you tomorrow.” Sure enough, I showed up to my lesson. I’m not sure if Tony even remembers this phone call or not. But without it, the Minnesota School of Music and my life as I know it wouldn’t exist. In that moment, he was the only one who could have convinced me to stick with my music education. I grew up without a father, and at 23 years old, while frustrated and feeling lost, I needed someone to stand up and speak truth to me. I’m forever grateful Tony was willing to step up in that moment and see the potential in me — even when I couldn’t.

Tony worked his contacts and arranged for me to perform several concerts at the university, which got me noticed among the school’s

Tony is now teaching as a member of the guitar faculty at St. Thomas, Metro State University, and Inver Hills Community College. His students are in very good hands.

performing-arts faculty. This led up to an actual audition and, ultimately, my acceptance to a school that I never would have dreamed I’d be able to attend. However, I soon discovered that I may have bitten off more than I could chew.

Here’s to all the people and acts of kindness we’re grateful for this Thanksgiving,

–Eric Nehring

(763) 432-9713 • 1

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