Minnesota School Of Music - March 2020

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03. 2020 763-432-9713 www.mnschoolofmusic.com



T he year was 2002, and Erin and I had moved out west to California. This was before we were married — I was playing in a band and life was a real adventure. That being said, we hadn’t had the opportunity to explore much of the Golden State when we first made the move. So, when some new friends offered to take us on a hike up Big Sur, we jumped at the opportunity. The timing of our trip was perfect. Not only was the weather beautiful, but we also had two friends from the Twin Cities out visiting us at the time. So, together with our two Californian guides, we set out for the Central Coast. Looking back, we really didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into. We wound down the legendary Cabrillo Highway with the surging ocean on one side and mountain peaks on the other. Having grown up with the hills we have here in Minnesota, it was quite the sight for us Twin City natives. But, as we would soon learn, it’s one thing to admire a mountain from a distance and another thing to climb it. The six of us arrived at Julia Pfeiffer State Park and quickly set off up the trail. Niki, one of our new California friends, was our de facto guide. Not only had she done this hike plenty of times, but she was also in great shape (in hindsight this should have been a warning for

what was coming). She set a nice, easy pace and we were off!

The first 15 minutes of the journey were fantastic. We were blown away by the massive redwoods and couldn’t wait to see the legendary views at the end of the trail. We were basically frolicking about when we should have been conserving our energy. After all, we were climbing to a lookout point 3,000 feet up. Reality set in for us Upper Midwest kids when the uphill journey showed no signs of stopping. Our leg muscles were aching, and worse still, we were desperately under-equipped for the climb. Most of us hadn’t even thought to bring water. Thankfully, Niki kept looking back, giving us words of encouragement. There were times we all thought about turning around, but in the end, we trudged forward because we trusted our guide. In the end, it was all worth it. The view of the cove below and the ocean stretching out to the horizon was — in the truest sense — breathtaking. We all just stood and stared, silent, at the vista we’d made it to. The serenity of that moment is something I still hold close to this very day. Thank goodness we didn’t turn around halfway up the trail. The reason I tell this story isn’t to recommend great nature hikes (though Big Sur is well worth the trip). Instead, I tell this story because it has everything

to do with what it’s like to be a musician. Our teachers, every student we’ve ever worked with, and even I have gone through some variation of this journey. It starts off exciting, full of wonder and new experiences, only for reality to set in. Improving gets harder, practice feels tedious, and sometimes all you can think about is turning around and going home. And that’s where a good guide can make all the difference. The best part of our jobs here at MnSOM is getting to lead students to those amazing vistas. Seeing their breakthroughs as they come to have a deeper understanding of their instrument is fantastic to us. We’re helping them follow in the footsteps our guides once lead us through at their stage. That, for us, is a journey worth taking.

–Eric Nehring

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Studies show that up to 50% of young children have imaginary companions, ranging from entirely conjured entities to beloved stuffed animals. The popular social stigma around imaginary friends is that these children must be shy or lonely, but psychologists disagree. In fact, if your child develops an imaginary friend, most psychologists say it’s an activity you should promote instead of discourage. Psychologists claim that the invention of an entire friendly persona points to the fact that the child is both creative and highly social. Imaginary scenarios also give kids an opportunity to indulge in their wildest aspirations, like going to the moon or inventing a time machine. Their creativity gives them the ability to dream, explore, and experiment in useful ways.

Imaginary friends can also be there to comfort your child when they’re feeling down or experiencing a tantrum, which is helpful when they are learning how to manage their emotions. There are also many ways parents can take part in interactions with imaginary friends to strengthen their own relationship with their child. Imaginary friends can make interactive play more meaningful and can be useful in accomplishing daily routines, like cleaning up or getting ready for bed. They also provide a window into the way your child’s mind works by encouraging the vocalization of thoughts and feelings they may not otherwise share. Imaginary friends are often a proxy for the children who invent them, so the conversations your child has with or about

their friend can provide a lot of insight into how your child views the world and themselves. Imaginary friends are so important to how some children learn and grow that they’ve been featured in pop culture for many years. Entertainment like “Calvin and Hobbes,” “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends,” and even adult shows like “Supernatural” — which featured an episode about a main character’s childhood imaginary friend returning to teach him valuable lessons as an adult — portray the inventors of imaginary friends as outgoing and creative. It just goes to show that letting the imagination run wild not only encourages healthy development but can also lead to lots of fun.


At MnSOM, we love it when our students have some big wins. So, when Connor Poitras reached an incredible milestone in his musical journey, we just had to share it with you. Connor has completed his fifth straight year of guitar lessons at our school and has the musical chops to prove it! We sat down with this aspiring musician to get his thoughts on the past five years and what he’s learned along the way. “I chose guitar because it was a cool instrument,” Connor tells us with a laugh. “Shaun Mendez, Sam Hunt, Ed Sheran — so many of the musicians I liked were guitarists.” Since those early days, this long-time MnSOM student has stayed true to his early inspirations. Recently, he’s mastered modern pop hits like “Believer” and “Body Like a Back Road” and even plays in a school band. Now it’s Connor’s impressing people with the coolness of his own guitar skills.

“I love seeing how passionate he is about music,” Connor’s mother tells us, “and I love seeing how much he applies it in his life.” “It’s great for hand-eye coordination,” Connor agrees, explaining that he balances his guitar playing with soccer and basketball on top of running cross-country. When asked about his busy schedule, the student-athlete seemed undaunted, explaining, “My schedule worked out where I only have one of those things a day. I just set aside time to practice when I get home from school.” Connor’s biggest takeaway, however, is his perseverance. Offering advice to aspiring guitarists, he says, “Try not to get frustrated. There are going to be times when you struggle, but just take a deep breath and keep going.” When asked what his next goal was after hitting this five-year milestone, Connor didn’t hesitate to answer: “I’m shooting for another five years … it feels good to have come this far.”

Thanks for sharing your story, Connor, and congratulations on all your hard work!

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Grace B. Ethan J.

Friedrich A. Sidney T.

Stephanie S. McKenna S. Addison S. Jaxon R. Gabriella S.

Cody I. Barb S. Hana S. Dylan S. Craig P. Stella C. Tessa N. Gavin P.

Emma T. Olivia P. Liesl A.

On this month’s cover, Eric shared a story of his trip hiking Big Sur, and how it mimicked the journey all musicians go through when learning an instrument. We wanted to expand on this further by drawing on one key difference from Eric’s trek and the art of playing music. Unlike a physical journey through the wilderness, a true musician has no destination. EAGER TRAVELERS Now, this may sound discouraging to some students at first. Most people want to get somewhere when they set out to accomplish something. Maybe you want to learn an instrument to perform in front of your friends or to master a handful of your favorite songs. These are valid goals to be sure, but the drive to reach that point can lead to overexertion, or worse, cutting corners. Trying to jump to a specific destination without staying on a path is a perfect recipe to get lost, and many young musicians wind up throwing in the towel. It’s better to temper your pace, reminding yourself these goals are just milestones on a far larger journey. A PATH WITH MANY VISTAS While there shouldn’t be an “endpoint” to a musician’s learning, you get to stop plenty of places and admire how far you’ve come. Recitals, mastered pieces, live shows, TV appearances — playing music can take you so many places, and each can feed into the next. These moments give us something to strive for in the short term and feed into our ultimate goal of improving our art and ourselves. AN INNER JOURNEY Most importantly, you don’t have to want to become a world- famous performer to get real mileage from the musician’s journey. Music is an art form that demands a lot from its practitioners: discipline, coordination, dedication, and creativity being chief among them. The road to mastering an instrument

IS YOUR TEACHER If you’ve tried to make a schedule change recently, you’ve seen firsthand how full our teachers’ schedules are. If you are looking to make an upcoming schedule change, please read below to see if your teacher is sold out. Note: Teacher availability is subject to change based on enrollment. Please contact the front desk at 763-432-9713 for up-to-date schedule information. SOLD OUT?

Miss Ferbuyt - SOLD OUT

Mr. Norell - SOLD OUT

Miss Hoops - SOLD OUT

Miss Pliam - SOLD OUT

Mrs. Lehner - SOLD OUT

Miss Schwefel - SOLD OUT

Mr. Nistler - SOLD OUT

flexes these skills, building them up to be applied to whatever challenges or opportunities life brings.

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3533 88th Ave. NE, Blaine, MN 55014 763-432-9713 www.mnschoolofmusic.com



Lessons From Big Sur

Forging Imaginary Friendships Why Connor Poitras Picked Up Guitar

Welcome New Students Music Is About the Journey

Stay Stateside With These Little-Known St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations


A LITTLE LUCK IN AMERICA’S HEARTLAND O’Neill, Nebraska, is home to the world’s largest shamrock and more unique St. Patrick’s Day traditions. This Irish community doubles down on its heritage every March with a traditional parade, music, and Irish dancing. But the town also hosts a popular dodgeball tournament and donkey basketball. What could be better than pummeling your opponents in dodgeball and outpacing the competition while riding a donkey in the school gymnasium? Perhaps enjoying a pint or two with your teammates afterward. And O’Neill is just the spot to do it. OHIO’S LITTLE PIECE OF IRELAND You may not be able to fly to Ireland, but you can visit a little piece of it right in the U.S. Head to Dublin, Ohio, this St. Patrick’s Day for a traditional celebration sure to put a wee bit o’ pep in your step. Partake in a traditional Irish breakfast or enjoy a parade complete with bagpipers and Irish dancers. Boasting one of the largest celebrations in the U.S., Dublin is an affordable alternative for those looking to celebrate the Irish way.

There’s no place quite like Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day. What was once a purely religious holiday to honor the legend of St. Patrick chasing all the snakes out of the country has turned into a global celebration. But if a

trip to Ireland isn’t in the budget, check out these three little-known stateside destinations that are just as festive.

SHORT AND SWEET IN ARKANSAS Thanks to the clever thinking of some Irish friends meeting for a pint at a bar on one of the shortest streets in the world, Bridge Street in Hot Springs, Arkansas, the First Ever 17th Annual World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade will travel 98 feet once again this year. Don’t assume the turnout isn’t robust just because the distance is staggeringly low. The parade lasts for hours, drawing thousands of people to watch celebrities, musicians, bands, floats, and Miss Arkansas glide by. The event also features a Blarney stone kissing contest and a parade king and queen.

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