I was going to write a post this morning bitching about the stress I've been under the past two weeks, and then turn it into a positve post about my ex-girlfriend's upcoming wedding. That post will have to wait until tomorrow because of the news that I received this morning.Dr. Henry Black Ingram
, my first undergraduate advisor when I got to Greensboro College as a freshman passed away this weekend at the age of 76. Even though I have not seen Dr. Ingram for many years I am deeply saddened by his passing and had to take time this morning to reflect. Please go read his obituary linked above and then come back here. I'll wait.
Dr. Ingram was a tremendously kind man and most definitely a extremely talented and practiced pianist. I have three memories of him that I'd like to share with you to honor his life.
The first and foremost was the compassion he showed as an advisor that went above and beyond the call of duty for that job description. The greatest benefit Greensboro College offered me because of its small size was the personal attention that one could receive. Dr. Ingram and I would often have great conversations that lasted well longer than the time required to pick out next semester's courses. I was young as a freshman, 17, and 600 miles away from home. Dr. Ingram made me feel welcome at GC. He asked me about my family, my home life, my personal development as a young man, and my interests beyond music. He encouraged me to take as many classes other than music as I could because, one, Greensboro College's firm belief in a liberal arts education and a well-rounded student, and more importantly, two, it is our life's experiences that truly inspire our music and music performance.
An example would be Beethoven's 3rd Symphony which he originally dedicated to Napoleon, but later rescinded that dedication. If I only took music classes and never took a world history class, I would never have learned the socio-economic and political issues of that time to understand why Beethoven made and rescinded that dedication.
2. I think it was in my sophomore year that I signed up to take a Film class co-taught by Dr. Ingram and Dr. Leslie, a sociology professor. The class would meet one night a week, watch a movie based on a different type of "success" and then write a two page paper in answer to some questions about that movie. For "financial success" we watched Wall Street
, for "sports success" we watched The Sandlot
, for "academic success" we watched the movie The Paper Chase,
and so on.
In this class I got to see as side of Dr. Ingram other than music; his love of movies. The class also inspired me to be more active in my thinking while watching a movie. The following year I signed up for another film class co-taught by Dr. Ingram. This time the class was titled "Ethics in Film" which was co-taugth by the chair of the Ethics department, Dr. Philip Rolnick. This time each film examined specific ethical issues or dilemma's. Those two classes stand out as some of my favorites in my entire college career!
3. Each semester every Greensboro College music student was required to attend a certain number of musical performances. Dr. Ingram was scheduled to have a recital with his wife, Lucy, for a "four hands play piano" type recital. This is where a piece of music is either written for two pianists as separate pianos or sometimes two pianists playing the same piano. I believe this event took place during my junior year after Dr. Ingram had retired and was no longer my advisor.
I remember watching Dr. Ingram and his wife perform from the balcony of Odell Auditorium (now named the Gail Huggins Performance Center). I was enraptured by the music. It was rich, complex and far more difficult than just any two hand piano piece. I also remember being touched by how well Dr. Ingram and Lucy worked together. And saying to myself, I have to make sure that I have a wife someday that loves music as much as I do. (Also, I said to myself, "I hope my hands move as fast as Dr. Ingram's when I am his age!")
I don't think Dr. Ingram knew how much of an influence his was one me. I really don't think I knew until recently. I'm 32 now and I have a lot more wisdom than I did at 17. Ok, maybe not that much more, but some. I hope that all of you would have the fortune to have someone like Dr. Ingram in your lives; a teacher who goes beyond teaching a subject and touches your soul and leaves your forever changed for the better.
Rest in peace, Dr. Ingram. Thank you for your life.