I rolled up to E.K. Powe Elementary School just after 8:00 AM. I’d been to the school several times before – my niece Louisa is a rising second grader at Powe – but today was different. Today was the first day of Kidznotes Summer Camp at E.K. Powe, and my first day as Kidznotes’ executive director. When I planned the beginning of my first official day with Kidznotes, only one course of action ever seemed right to me: MEET THE KIDS. Pulling into the parking lot this morning, then, I was more excited than I’d ever been to spend time at E.K. Powe (sorry, Louisa). I couldn’t wait to meet the kids.

Having spent seven years as a classroom teacher, I know the quiet, nervous energy students give off on the first day of school. Kidznotes Summer Camp did not have that kind of energy. It felt like more like a family reunion as kids spilled into the cafeteria, grabbing breakfast and chatting with their fellow violinists, violists, and cellists. And although it was a family reunion, and I was the guy who’d just married into the family, I felt right at home. Parents went out of their way to say hi. “I saw a pretty picture of you in my email,” one parent (who shall remain nameless) told me as she shook my hand.

And the kids? Amazing. I had the chance to visit with Marcus, his sister Sophia, and their mom, Ruth.

Next week, Marcus will travel to Los Angeles to take part in the Take A Stand Festival hosted by the LA Philharmonic. He was accepted after an intense and highly competitive national audition process. Marcus will have the chance to play Tchaikovsky and Bernstein under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel, and he told me all of this with a cool confidence that betrayed his age.

I imagined myself in Marcus’s shoes at age 14. I had no idea that music such as he’ll make next week was even possible. He’ll come back from LA changed, charged with the fire of music I didn’t experience until I was an adult. I cannot wait to watch him on that stage and see what he’s capable of (I promised Ruth I’d take plenty of video).

The rest of my day was jam packed. It flew by in a flurry of meetings, emails, and introductions. Busy though it was, though, I don’t regret for a minute my decision to begin my tenure with Kidznotes by meeting the kids.

Warmly,

Nick