“Three… two… one…” each number I say in that countdown helps me transform into my “TV Voice.”  It was a trick taught to me by a fellow reporter in the beginning of my career.  “One… two… one two three four…” that’s an example of what Mr Will would say to start the tempo and strike up the NCHS band.

Mr. Will was one of my most influential teachers at Norton Community High.  You may wonder how in the world could a high school band teacher influence me as a news anchor.  The answer-a WHOLE LOT and more that I ever imagined. Let me explain…

ImageSoft, loud, staccato, tempo… all of that can help improve my news delivery.  Reading can have a type of rhythm to it, just like music. It’s my job to keep it moving, and changing according to the story.  In some ways I’m like a director, making sure the newscast moves forward with strength and I carry the tone of the whole show.  Just like when I sat in the back row with that old trombone my dad used to play, I sight-read.  Only instead of notes, and bars, it’s scripts and sound bites.

When it comes to Mr. Will, he could really bring out the best in a student.  I struggled with memorizing music.  At state competitions the solos had to be memorized in order to get the highest mark, and I wanted that 1 rating.  Each year I qualified for state, but the memorizing kept me from showing what I was truly capable of.

My senior year, he really encouraged me to work on it.  Despite all the other activities I was involved in, and homework, I decided to really focus on the solo competition no matter what.  Hours were spent in his office.  He was so patient with me, as he knew I was struggling and he would teach me ways to memorize.  He told me that as I keep working on it, the notes will just seem natural.  I was thinking about it too hard.  The day came, and all that work paid off.  I finally got the rating I wanted.

Then… years later as a reporter, I struggled memorizing scripts to introduce my stories.  Frustration mounted, and I could tell producers and other co-workers were losing patience with me.  I had to figure out something fast.  One day, I was standing there listening to the anchors as they were tossing to me and it just clicked.  I thought of Mr. Will and how he said the notes will flow– words flow just the same.  I GOT IT!  Finally, I was able to prove I belonged in this business.

ImageI owe a lot to Mr. Will.  He is retiring and his last concert is this week.  He was such a big influence for so many students over the years.  Some of us may not realize it until we really think about it, but teachers like him can instill lessons that we carry on throughout life.  It’s just hidden most of the time, and when you dig it up, the power of that one person–that teacher– like Mr Will– is simply amazing.