Checks on the Bucket List

Most people have a bucket list, whether it’s written down on fancy paper, typed into their phone, or known only in their mind. Over the years, my bucket list has changed. Sometimes things that once seemed important are no longer relevant, and things I didn’t care about before have taken center stage.

This school year, I’m checking something off that had fallen off my bucket list for a time…but jumped back on this spring.

But first, I want to tell you about Mr. Hansen.

Rick Hansen was my orchestra teacher in my youth. I started with him in the 4th grade and continued with him all through high school. By the time I made it to college, he was teaching one of the orchestras on the local campus so I joined and had him for two more years. (If you’re counting, that’s 11 years.) During my senior year, I took private lessons from him. In May, Mr. Hansen retired after 40+ years of teaching. Former students were invited to attend the final concert, and I wasn’t going to miss it for anything! So, I packed up my kids (and my sister who also played with him) and drove to Idaho. I’ve played (and still play) with multiple orchestras since I left Idaho, and they’ve been fun, but man…it sure felt good to get back on stage with the Madison High School Orchestra.

We rehearsed the songs a couple of times just hours prior to going on stage, and let me say, for a bunch of “old folk” we sounded pretty good. Many of us have put on a few (or a lot) of pounds, we have a few (or a lot) more gray hairs, and our jobs take more hours than flipping burgers a few nights a week, but we’ve apparently “still got it”.

It was tradition for our high school orchestra to perform at Disneyland every other year. Since Disney was a big part of our high school days, I’m glad one of the songs we played at the final concert included Disney music.  You can see me somewhere over yonder in the 1st violin section.

Now, back to the bucket list theme. Growing up, I thought it would be fun to be an orchestra teacher. It was one of those items on my bucket list that had one foot on and one foot off for many years. I liked the idea of being with an orchestra all the time, but questioned my directing skills.

Flash Forward to 2017. At this point I’ve played in an orchestra with world-renowned artists performing with us at every concert. I’ve played at weddings. I’ve taught students in my home. I’ve played at church. I even played in a quartet for an episode of a TV show this past spring! But, after attending Mr. Hansen’s final concert I realized how much I missed orchestra in a school setting.

So, after learning of an opening for a string instructor in our school district, I decided to apply. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom and writer for years, yet the timing felt right. And, I was hired to teach beginning orchestra at a local school. Whoa…

My class has only been going for a week and a half, but I’m already loving it. This morning my students played a pizzicato piece with perfect rhythm for the first time. They were excited, I was excited, and it showed on everyone’s faces. I can’t wait for the next class!

And so, Mr. Hansen, thank you. Thank you for 40+ years of creating memories, instilling a love of music into your students, and for many, many laughs. My life is still being impacted because of my love for orchestra all those years ago.

[Heads off to check one more thing off the bucket list.]


(Here’s a clip of the 2016-2017 Madison High School Orchestra at the final concert. When I was in high school, we went twice to “Phantom of the Opera” in San Francisco with the orchestra and played the music multiple times. I’m glad he chose this for his final concert with them.)