#BecauseOfArtsEd - Susi's Story

September 14, 2017 Kate Huffman

This week is National Arts in Education Week and Encore Tours has been celebrating by sharing our #BecauseOfArtsEducation stories on our blog and on social media. Encore Tours employee, Susi Ecker, had a particularly fantastic story to share! Read her blog to find out how Susi has benefited from arts education!

When I was in high school, my music teacher, Mr. Edward Birch, organized the school band to have an exchange of music, ideas, and homestays with a band in Vermont. We were from Bloomfield, Connecticut right outside of Hartford, suburban/city kids, and our exchange group lived in the lush, mossy, wooded, green deliciousness of rural Brattleboro, Vermont. Music was the perfect vehicle to learn about kids that had a different lifestyle than our own as we played new music and worked together as a larger team. I really enjoyed the brother and sister, Marc and Holly, who stayed with me for the exchange in Connecticut and was rewarded tenfold when I stayed with them in Vermont. We became quick friends and remained so through college. The memory of this exchange still brings a smile to my face even 45 years later and explains my dogged attempt to play an instrument, any instrument, for all these years!

Susi playing drums in the "Funky Female Faculty" band.

I started with piano lessons with my teacher, Mrs. Blake, an 80-year-old woman with no teeth. I then moved onto drums, which I was the most passionate about, but at the time, no one seemed to want a 13-year-old female drummer. I later progressed to guitar lessons to be near a young boy I had a serious crush on and ended with violin/fiddle lessons as a full-fledged adult because every time I heard the undeniably sweet, high sound of a violin solo it brought me to tears. As a drummer, I had the opportunity to perform Ike and Tina Turner’s Rolling Down the River with my middle school teachers as the "Funky Female Faculty" - we brought down the house! I joined the New Haven Women’s Liberation Rock Band at the Hartford Women's Center for a jam session on Mountain Moving Day, the album they were working on at the time. I also carried and played the bass drum in high school for football games and parades. All of this brought me out of my shyness and made me a more outgoing, social, and assertive young woman.

Sign reads: #BecauseOfArtsEd I've made deep connections with many people and learned about their unique stories. 

Each instrument I learned brought me so much joy to be a part of something much larger than myself. Music taught me about community, about goose bumps on the back of my neck from so many voices joining together as one, it is also one of the markers of time, remembering a specific period of your life every time you hear a song that had special meaning. In so many ways music and arts education has enhanced my life.

Thanks to Susi for sharing her story! Follow along on Encore's social media channels using the hashtags #BecauseOfArtsEd and #ArtsEdWeek for more National Arts in Education Week stories!

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About the Author

Kate Huffman

Kate first discovered the power of intercultural communication and exchange through music on a month-long trip to China and Japan with her college wind ensemble. She's been hooked on traveling ever since and has performed with different groups in cities such Beijing, London, and Kyoto to name a few! Kate is a clarinet player and a passionate arts advocate with degrees in music, arts administration, and cultural policy. Kate is the Marketing and Communications Manager at Encore Tours.

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