By Mckenna Dunbar '19
Six months ago, I walked into the piano room on the third floor of Hearst, and my life has not been the same since. At 9 am on the dot, I slowly opened the door and glanced around the room where instruments were scattered every which way. Cellos resting on their stands, flutes and their respective reeds strewed across a desk, a drum set tucked away in the corner of the bright, cream-colored room, and tables of instrument accessories that lined the walls welcomed me. Right in the center of the room though, was a boy about my age. That boy was Nathan Heath.
Days before, I anxiously checked the class roster in anticipation of who I might have to interact with for the rest of the year. I clicked under the list, and it appeared as though I was the only one on it. I became immensely confused but then realized that this was probably not out of the ordinary due to the last year’s music theory class consisting of only three students. I sighed and tucked away my laptop. I would just have to wait a couple more days to find out.
Flashback to the first moment I walked into music theory. I was quite nervous because I had never been in a class so small before. I did not know much about music theory, other than playing the violin for nearly a decade, and even so, I was in a two-person classroom with Nathan Heath. I had never spoken to or knew much about him, but according to my peers who were familiar with him, they described him as being very intense and devoted to his music. That made me even more anxious about the following months. If I could barely distinguish major and minor seventh chords at that point, how would I be able to keep up with someone who was known on the Close to be a musical prodigy?
I pulled up a chair and sat down, iPad in tow. Nathan cheerfully questioned, “Is it just us?” and I responded with a hefty “yup”. He cracked open his laptop and some sort of beautiful sounding symphony started blasting from his speakers. At that very moment, I knew it was going to be an exceptional year. Mr. Wood soon walked in and introduced us to the topics we would learn throughout the semester. His good-hearted and genuine nature as the director of orchestral music of NCS indubitably reflected in his teaching style that day. He is an individual I have looked up to since the seventh grade and I considered it to be such an honor to finally have a formal academic class with him.
Over the course of the next few months, Nathan and I became very close friends. Our personalities just somehow clicked. Class was never boring and I looked forward to sitting in Mr. Wood’s room learning about harmony, key signatures, chords, and inversions amongst other music theory topics. The lessons were entirely captivating, fun, and interesting, like Nathan’s presence, and that truly added to the fun of it. My day was brighter because of that hour spent with Nathan and Mr. Wood. Never would I have imagined being a part of a trio like the one we all formed. It was the class that allowed us to meet each other, but it was our love of music, engaging conversations, and the piano that formed a bond of true friendship. Nathan has spent countless free-periods teaching me the piano, and in turn, I have told innumerable jokes in class, much to Mr. Wood’s chagrin. Not only is Mr. Wood an incredible person, his ability to care about both Nathan and me as individuals is what makes him stand out from many other adults I have encountered. Like Mr. Wood, Nathan has taught me the value of devotion and has shown me how rare true kindness is in the world. I have music theory to thank for that.
If you are looking to fill your class schedule with a fun and engaging class where you make meaningful connections with your peers and teacher while learning about the history and dynamics of music, music theory is the place to be!