It is so difficult to carry around a wonderful secret, one that I have been busting to share with the world for weeks now. Today I can finally breathe a welcome sigh of relief. I received an email this afternoon that I have been waiting for, one that would allow me to officially share some good news that has been years in the making. The email was from Carl Fischer Music, New York, thanking me for submitting the completed manuscript of my book, Kalmen Opperman: A Legacy of Excellence, and telling me that the book would be going to the production team and the contract would be on its way soon. Most importantly, they answered my question, “Can I start spreading the news?” The answer was a definitive Yes!
I began studying/ researching with Kal Opperman at his Manhattan apartment on May 10, 2001. As I wrote in a recent blog post, this experience was life-altering. Mr. Opperman not only taught me an incredible amount about the clarinet and its pedagogy, but he also taught me about life. Through teaching me hard-won lessons on my instrument, he taught me that I was stronger than I ever thought, taught me to be independent. I wrote my doctoral dissertation on his teaching of clarinet technique, always hoping to someday turn the seed of that work into a book about his life and many pedagogical contributions.
A lot of life happened over the past years; divorce, a new life and new job, a marriage, the loss of dear family and friends, most notably my mother’s illness and death almost two years ago. Through it all, I chipped away at my dream of finishing the book, kept processing and thinking about Mr. Opperman’s teaching and his impact on so many lives. His wonderful wife, Louise, and his children, Chuck and Roie, opened up to me and helped me to understand the man behind the very stern and gruff exterior. His students from all over the world shared their stories with me. My friends encouraged me, propped me up when I would get stalled or discouraged. The ideas blossomed and bloomed, and finally the book was ready for a publisher.
I was thrilled when I realized where the best home for my book would be. Most of Mr. Opperman’s books were published with Carl Fisher, a publisher of wonderful history and reputation in the music world. I already had a book of clarinet solos published with them, but had no idea if they would think my book on Kal was a good fit. Thankfully it was, and I am giddy with excitement today to share this news with the people who have helped me all along the way.
I am so grateful to those of you who have taken the time to read my blog and encourage me with your feedback and comments, most especially my friends in the Facebook creative group, ‘The Crazy Ones’. There is so much talent there- check the group out if you haven’t already done so. I am thrilled that with this dream realized, I can continue on with the next dream- to finish my book about my mother, ‘Heavy D’, as I promised her I would do. I feel such excitement about what the future holds creatively.
Today holds several lessons for me. Lessons in perseverance, in believing in dreams, in friendship, and in love. In possibility. In the knowledge that things happen when they are meant to happen. The lesson that I can have a busy career and life and still make time for the creative outlet of writing that I love so much.
My only sadness today is that my mother- the woman who sacrificed, encouraged, and loved me more than anyone could- is not here to share in this news and to do her wonderful, silly dance of celebration with me, the one that we did since elementary school, whenever I would bring home good news from school. I feel her with me, though, always in my heart. I can feel her grinning from ear to ear at the good news, especially as just now, Dan came into the room, took my hands, and began Mom’s dance with me…”Toot- diddle-ooh-diddle-ooh-dee-ooh!”
All I can say right now is that this woman who grew up poor as a church mouse but rich in love, who started band playing a clarinet that Mom traded a cherished antique necklace for…this woman is over the moon today, grateful for so many gifts of love and encouragement in my life. And now, as Mr. Opperman would say, “Next…onto the next!”