In 1972, I left Ann Arbor, Michigan, and moved to Valley City, North Dakota, to take a position at Valley City State University, a small liberal arts college with an enrollment at the time of about 1000 students. VCSU sits on a picturesque, small campus, with some grand, old buildings, lots of trees, and the Sheyenne River flowing along the back side of the Music Building. Valley City is a small town with a population of about 8,000, and is well known for the Valley City Winter Show, an annual agricultural show that attracts exhibitors and visitors from all over the country. It is also known for the Hi-Line Bridge, one of the longest and highest single track railroad viaducts in the US. VCSU is one of 11 campuses that are part of the North Dakota University System. I was hired as Director of Jazz Band and Marching Band. My other teaching responsibilities included teaching private lessons to woodwind students, and also teaching theory and composition. In 1974 I was asked to assume the administrative position as Chair of the Music Department, and after a few years I was asked to become Chair of the Division of Fine Arts. This was a good fit for me at the time and brought me a little closer to my first love, art. I remained at VCSU until December 1990, when I moved to Boca Raton, Florida where I was hired as Chair of the Music Department at Florida Atlantic University.
At the core of my being, and in my heart and soul, I was always an artist. There was a tug-of-war in my life between art and music. Both of my parents were very accomplished musicians. My father worked in an office at DO ALL Tools in Detroit by day, and played in nightclubs by night with the Don Pablo Orchestra. He was also a private music teacher every Saturday at Hewitt’s Music Store and Studios in Dearborn. My father received his music training from the Detroit Institute of Music. My mother received her Bachelor’s Degree in Music from Wayne State University in Detroit. She was an exceptional French horn player, and upon graduation from Wayne State, was invited to audition for the New York Philharmonic. She decided, instead, to get married and worked as a Junior High Band Director in the Detroit Public Schools. My maternal grandfather, who was a tremendous artist, had the largest influence on me in my early childhood, ultimately causing a struggle within me between my love and respect for my parents and the love and respect for my grandfather. My grandfather passed away when I was 12 years old, and although I followed the path of art as a freshman in high school, I was drawn to music in my junior year, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Throughout my life, the struggle remained within me, wondering what would have happened had I pursued a career in art instead of music. I continued drawing and painting, and I enrolled in life-drawing classes from time to time. After retiring from my music career in 2012, I was finally able to return to my love of art, and I now can enjoy painting every day, and all day if I choose. There is no longer an inner struggle, and I am totally at peace with this choice.