Final thoughts from Miami

From the Top alum and staffer Matthew Dykeman is on the ground in Miami for a week-long residency with local schools. He’s sent back these reports (here and here). On his last day there, he wrote this final post…enjoy!

Rehearsal in Miami

Folks, let me give you some statistics:

  • 250 students, age 5-18
  • 5 schools
  • 44 mammoth pizzas
  • 1 gorgeous music hall

These deets pretty much cover what has been a raucous 36 hours for the From the Top team down here in Miami! The most ridiculous part for me was coordinating the shifts between ensembles, though. We must have spent three hours together mapping out the movements of ensembles, making sure every group was where they needed to be, and getting groups back into the concert when done to catch the rest of the show.

My favorite “idiotic Matt” moment from last night came when I went to go get the final ensemble to bring backstage for their feature onstage. This group was two floors up seated in the balcony level of the hall, so I double-timed it up the staircase and positioned myself to lead them when the applause started for the previous group.

*Applause begins*

I motioned for everyone to get up and follow me. Now, I had done a walk-through with the house staff before the concert to confirm the route I needed to take them. At one point, the staff member said “You would think to take them through that door, but it doesn’t actually lead to a staircase!” Laughter ensued, and at one point I may have rolled on the floor imagining how ridiculous that would have looked. Unfortunately (riiiight here is when Matt had a stupid), I only remembered “Take them that way” and started leading this high school group through a door and right into a dead end. Panic ensued for me here. The ensemble started to pack in behind me as the realization I lead us the wrong way set in. I spun around and whisper-yelled “Hit the wall!” to the group. That didn’t really work, so I pseudo-mosh-pitted my way out and tumbled back to the other side of the group and quickly lead the group the right way I had been shown from the beginning.

*Takes a bow*

Getting serious now…the thing that surprised me the most about the final portion of this Miami Arts Leadership Residency is how I still found myself connecting and learning more about the kids we’ve been connecting with this week. I spoke with a young violinist about his dreams of going to Juilliard while we waited in the wings. A young cellist interviewed various members of our team about our life experiences so he can understand better how music can fit into his life. I heard from several students who said with certainty that music kept them together when their lives have been too much to handle.

These are the stories and experiences that will stay with me from this trip. This week will always be a reminder for me to

“Love it. Own it. Share it.”