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  • Writer's picturePeter Markes

Behind the Music: "Leaving"

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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