This page gives us an opportunity to introduce one of our members “up close and personal”. Our featured player this month is Karen Meade, flute.
Karen was born in Hazleton, PA, but grew up in Northern Virginia, in the Washington DC suburbs. She moved to southeastern PA in 1993 after graduating from college. She started out in King of Prussia and moved further and further into the western suburbs, first to West Norriton and then to Limerick, where she has resided since 2000. Karen is a product of the Fairfax County (VA) Public School System and graduated from Annandale High School.
“My initial interest in music came from a semi-distant cousin, 5 years my senior who played the flute. I tried to teach myself the guitar in 1978 when I was 8 years old, because I had a friend who was taking guitar lessons, but all of my early musical instruction came from my elementary school music program. Fairfax County Schools had a strong musical curriculum. I began in orchestra, playing viola in 4th grade, and switched to flute in 5th grade. I wanted to participate in the band. Our marching band used to bring home more trophies than our football team ever did! Later I also learned to play clarinet and saxophone and I have performed in local pit orchestras and in church.
“I am married to a fellow musician. My husband Jim and I met in band at NC State. We joke that some married couples have their date nights at restaurants and movie theatres, while we have ours at rehearsals and performances! Jim teaches piano to our children, who are ages 10, 9 and 6. Our 10 and 9 year olds are both involved in the instrumental music program at their local public school. Robbie (10) plays clarinet and Amanda (9) just started flute this fall. I continued playing because of the camaraderie I developed with my fellow musicians.”
Karen earned a B.S. in Education (Language Arts and Social Studies) from NC State University, and an M.A. in English from West Chester University. At NC State, she played flute, piccolo and mellophone in Marching Band, Pep Band, Symphonic Band, and Concert Band. She also played in the University Civic Concert Orchestra. At West Chester, she played piccolo in the Symphonic Wind Ensemble
“I am currently a senior student in the nursing program at Montgomery County Community College and will graduate and be looking for a nursing job (ideally in maternal-child health) in December 2009. I teach classes to pregnant and/or parenting teens and young adults in the Pottstown area through child, home and community. I also work part-time as a nurse aide clerk in pediatrics and maternity at Grand View Hospital.
“Prior to having 3 kids, I worked as a medical writer and editor for ADVANCE magazine and the now defunct Advisory Publications. And, before that, I briefly taught social studies at Wissahickon High School. I started playing with MCCB in 2001. I have performed with the North Penn Symphony, Merion concert Band, Narberth Community Theatre, Laymen Playmen, and local high schools. I’ve also played in a contemporary Christian band called Sojourn, and in my church’s faith band. Way back when, I also did a stint in DCI, playing mellophone with the Crossmen.
“Being involved in instrumental music gave me opportunities I would not have otherwise had. I was not particularly athletic as a child (despite my best efforts), but I did do quite well with playing my instrument. So it gave me a sense of self worth and satisfaction. The only childhood friends with whom I am still close are those who were in band with me. Although I did not major in music in college, I did receive a music scholarship for non-majors. Without that scholarship, I’m not certain completing college would have been an option for me. There is nothing quite like playing in a group, making music together. Doing so creates a bond with your fellow musicians that endures long after rehearsal ends and a particular performance has come and gone. I know that I could count on my fellow band members – both past and present –for almost anything and that they can expect the same from me. This is about so much more than simply sitting down and playing some notes on a page together for 2 hours each week. Of course, I’m also busy with my children and their activities, including travel soccer, baseball and softball. I am my daughter’s Girl Scout Troop Leader and also lead my youngest son’s Tiger Cub Scout Den. Together as a family we study karate – Tang Soo Do Mu Duk Kwan at AmKor Karate in Royersford. We also enjoy the outdoors, going on camping trips and riding our bicycles on the Perkiomen Trail. I also like to read literary fiction when I have the time and have also been known to hang out at my local YMCA either swimming with the kids or taking a step-interval aerobics class.”
Don Kline, personnel director of MCCB writes about Karen: “As I monitor the biographies of our band members, I see many important qualities that seem to be universal. People from all vocations and occupations are performing musicians. Most players are a product of their public (or sometimes private) school instrumental music programs and more than likely, many would not be playing an instrument without the support of the local school and the surrounding community. Most players have a strong bond with their fellow musicians. They do well multi-tasking. Most musicians do well speaking to large groups because of their background. They have strong self-esteem and leadership qualities and they all love to watch people applaud when they finish playing a piece! Karen Meade is a good model of how music can affect your life in a very positive way.”