Music Educators Association of New Jersey

Serving teachers and students since 1927

Message from the President - September, 2020

Yudit Terry

HOPE. It is a good word. It feels soft and rounded; it contains no harsh, guttural sounds. It feels like a kiss when you say it. A kiss is usually an expression of love and affection. It is imbued with optimism. It allows us to continue thinking positively, to continue looking towards the horizon.

I would like to think that we at the MEA, are coming from that point of view, are filled with a sense that before long we will be in a place that we can all agree upon, is normal. In my previous message I wrote about not knowing when we will be on the other side of the dreaded curve. I know that here in NJ, we have flattened the curve somewhat, but the need for caution, distancing, masking, and plain common sense is still here.

In my previous message I also highlighted the tremendous efforts, coupled with creativity that were apparent when programs like the Annual Piano Competition and the Piano Auditions were made possible in spite of the obvious hurdles placed before Barbara Hause and Joan Bujacich and their committees, respectively. The APC winners’ video was a true joy and would not have been possible but for the efforts and creativity of Youn-Hee Bang Kim.

There were others, though.

Kathy Knittel and her committee did a wonderful job shepherding the Eric Steiner Original Composition Competition through. The COVID-19 pandemic did get in the way of the Original Composition Festival when the Caldwell University venue became unavailable.

Marcia Maull did an end-run around the virus and emailed the theory tests to the teachers of the students enrolled for the March exam.

Sophia Agranovich, our Program Committee chair, took no time to pivot, adjust, and allow the MEA to reinstate the June general meeting, featuring Alexander Paskanov. Sophia and her committee are hard at work, looking ahead to the upcoming season with both optimism and a sense of realism. She already secured exciting guests for the October and November general meetings who are both able to give their presentations online or in person. We are also in for a treat, when one of our own, Beatrice Long, will be the guest host for the September meeting.

Scherzo Club, Composer’s Corner gatherings, and Student Recitals were cancelled back then, when our state locked up and shut down. Will we be able to reinstate them this upcoming season? Coming from a different place back in early March, having taught remotely for months, run my own student recital remotely, and presided over several board meetings and a general meeting online, I would say, MAYBE. Sprinkle in HOPE and the optimism it engenders, and that brings me to YES. The “how” will require the creativity we witnessed back then, some months ago.

As if on cue, as I am writing this message, an email arrives from Charlene Step, the Honors Recitals committee chair. In it a detailed plan for the Honors Recital to be taking place this coming fall. Just the creativity and sense of “can do” I had in mind.

One last thought. There is an expression based on the story of Samson and Delila: Samson encounters a fierce lion in his travels. He fights it and prevails. On his return trip he comes upon the lion’s decomposing carcass. To his great astonishment, bees have established a hive in the lion’s abdominal cavity, producing an abundance of honey.

”From Conflict and Adversity, Good and Sweet Emanates.”

I think of this phrase frequently these days. I thought of it when Board members were able to join Board meetings, even when they were out of the state. I thought of it when more members joined us for the June Zoom general meeting, then we were accustomed to. I was overjoyed when over a hundred people tuned into my own student recital from places far and distant, to listen to grandchildren, nieces, nephews, because they could.

Looking into the future, I know that we will be able to record general meetings taking place online, thereby allowing members to revisit the gathering. Perhaps we will be able to figure out a way to connect members remotely, even when we resume in person and on location meetings.

So, dear colleagues,
Keep HOPE alive,
Be optimistic,
Stay safe and healthy,
Yudit Terry, President