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  • Writer's picturePeter Markes

Updated: May 4, 2020

This post comes today, exactly two years after my final concert as orchestra director at Edmond North High School, a position I held for 15 years. When I decided to leave the public school classroom in 2017, "Leaving" became the first of many songs that I would write. With my mind moving beyond teaching, creative space flooded open in this new direction.

This song is about leaving something you love, whether a relationship, a career, or even just leaving your home and loved ones each day (and some nights) to go to work. In addition to my decision to leave teaching, my brother was also living through a divorce at the same time, and those two themes converged in the lyrics.

"Cemeteries are full of indispensable people."

When leaving my job, I heard often, "We will never be able to replace you." To be sure, I don't feel replaced - I don't really feel anything - I am just glad that the work I did in creating a positive culture of hard-work and caring continues at Edmond North. My dad often quotes the "cemetery" line, and from that was born the chorus tag, "I know we're all replaceable but somehow indispensable...oh yes I know that you'll replace me too."

Among my favorite lines are, "I'm finding there's no future in the past," and "Just because I'm leaving doesn't mean I love you less; in fact I'm leaving more in love with you." This latter sentence used in the chorus was also included in a farewell letter that I printed in that last orchestra concert program.

I loved teaching at Edmond North; I could have retired there. I am also glad of the path I've chosen as a performer - a schedule that still means I must leave on occasion, but in the end have a few less goodbyes.

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  • Writer's picturePeter Markes

Updated: May 4, 2020

By request, Please Find Me is the next song I'm exploring. By far the most personal I've written so far, this song is akin to reading from my journal (which I'm learning makes for good songwriting!). I originally titled it, "Please Judge Me," seeking absolution through judgement for my behavior. Some scrapped early verses read, "Maybe you can hold me...accountable," and "I don't have the strength to follow through." For me specifically, I am addressing my relationships with work and alcohol, both addictions that have kept me from being my best self at times. The song became Please Find Me when I read, "Just because you are lost doesn't mean your compass is broken." (from Perfectly Yourself by Matthew Kelly). "Lost & Found" is a timeless theme.

Journal entry from January 8, 2018:

"I had no concerns for God as a child - I just admired everything as it was. I had no addictions. I had no language for anger or judgment. My needs were simple. I did not compete or compare. The eyes of a child can teach me much. I was built for mission then, and that mission was simple - to learn, play, and grow. Those three things turn us into adults and I fear we stop doing them."

Please Find Me is about choosing to find our child - both the one inside of us and the actual children many of us are raising or have raised. The pre-chorus reads, "I hear your voice and I have a choice, it's time to sail in from the sea." Some listeners are taken aback by the opening lyrics sung in the Dad voice:

"Six beers in, and my son is watching

He's wondering which Dad will I be"

The stresses of work and the fatigue of drinking made me an unpredictable person - sometimes happy-go-lucky and sometimes mean and impatient. A few beers fueled the fire. Maybe we've all been there, regretful the next morning. I really don't know.

The Son sings:

"I know you care, and when I think you’re there

Somehow you have escaped

Come back Dad, it’s not too late"

That's it friends. Our children grow up fast, and even if they are adults, "it's not too late." Stop what you are doing and look at them when they are speaking. Forget paying for video games or allowance - just pay them attention. Play with them as often as possible. It is never wasted time.

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  • Writer's picturePeter Markes

When I was a classroom teacher, conversations about my job felt assumed; everyone (erroneously) seems to know what a teacher does since most of us observed them for 13+ years. Now, when I tell someone, "I'm a professional musician," people immediately ask, "So, like what do you do?" First and foremost, all of my work is centered on the firm belief that "Music Changes Lives." Here's what I do surrounding that theme.

I write, record, and learn new songs to share with others, well-described as a "Song Farmer." I practice and play my violin and guitar, sometimes for any entire day. I perform both as a solo artist and in the band, Horseshoe Road. I maintain a private violin and guitar studio of around ten students. I consult in music education, teaching short-term orchestra classes and music camps or leading large-group workshops. I maintain my small business, Peter Markes LLC, which includes sales and accounting, social media posts, upkeep of my website, networking, and creation of content (subscribe to my YouTube videos or this blog). I'm sure there is more, and yes, these multiple streams of revenue do add up to a living wage.

What is most interesting to me is that we all say "play" music, we never "work" the violin or guitar. So there you have it - I never have to work a day in my life!

A gift from the students of the Oklahoma Youth Orchestra 2018 Summer Camp, commemorating our week together.

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