I’ve been thinking a lot lately about “influences.”
When I was younger, there were people I looked up to– just like we all did when we were kids.
Even to this very day, there are people who influence and mold the direction my life takes.
But today, I wanted to talk about one of the biggest influences in my life from my High School days.
Music had been a constant for my brother, sister and I since we’d been very young. Not just instrumental, but choral groups as well.
When I arrived to tenth grade at Huntington High School back in 1979, I continued to participate in the various music programs available at the time.
Concert band, marching band. The wind ensemble.
One day, at the appointed time, I arrived in the choral room at HHS as a newbie freshman. It was a large room with permanent wooden rises located at the ass-end of the school close to the auditorium.
Sitting at the piano was a man of average height with white hair. I won’t lie to you; he initially scared the living crap out of me.
“No, no, no! It’s IN-EGGSHELL-SEE DEO! Take it again from measure 25!” he’d scream while pounding on the piano.
This man was Andrew Housholder.
The fear lasted, maybe a couple of weeks. Respect followed. Then, adoration.
This man took almost anybody into the choir. And by the first concert, had built a group of hormonally challenged, apathetic high school students into a cohesive singing phenomena.
We would often perform college or professional level pieces. “Uncle Andy” is one of the reasons I received music scholarships for college (where I meet another amazing director and choral master—Lex Dashnaw. But that’s another posting).
If you’ve never seen it, go watch “Mr. Holland’s Opus.” That closing scene, with decades of students returning to pay tribute to Mr. Holland, a band teacher played by Richard Dreyfuss. It’s like that.
I bring this up today, because at 7:30 this morning, Andrew Housholder passed away, surrounded by his family.
For the last couple of weeks I’ve watched kudos, prayers and anecdotes come in from all over the United States on a Facebook page setup by Ellen Housholder Rife, Uncle Andy’s daughter.
The impact that this one man had on my life, and on the life of hundreds, perhaps thousands of my fellow HHS Alumni was profound.
I’m sure this man has made his way to heaven and has taken over running the choirs of the Heavenly Host by now.
I can almost hear it now.
“IN-EGGSHELL-SEE DEO, Saint Michael!! Tenors and Archangels, take it from the ‘Halleluiah’ in measure 31…”
Thank you Andy. You will be missed.