Art of Sound Part Three- Mike Marshall
On Sunday afternoon, Mike Marshall put on a concert with the Shelby High School Orchestra. Schools used to do these things. In fact, at the turn of the century, (the 20th that is) there were even mandolin orchestras all over the country.
It was an interesting mix. Marshall grew up in bluegrass, but had a teacher early on who insisted on formal music theory and the ability to read music. Because of that, he was able to teach these kids from both perspectives. They not only did a Vivaldi Concerto, and a Concert Piece in G composed by Mr. Marshall, but learned to improvise and play bluegrass and other traditional music.
As Mike put it, music is like the wind. It knows no borders or divisions, and blows freely across any artificial boundaries. I liked the concept. And I was moved not only by his virtuoso performance, but his ability to communicate with these high school kids and bring out the best in them. If you have a child in high school orchestra, give consideration to a weekend with Mike Marshall. For the kids I talked to it was an experience they’ll never forget.
I was touched by his performance and went to speak to him.
“Hi, I’m Tommy Bibey.” We shook hands.
“Yeah, we met the other night. Good to see you.” He looked me in the eye. “You do have one blue eye and one green one.”
“Yep. It’s me. Blue and green for bluegrass, I guess. Thanks for working with these kids. I’m an old mandolin guy. I sense before you are done our favorite instrument is gonna make a comeback.” I envisioned mandolin orchestra in my hometown. “I hope you get there.”
“Thanks, Bibey. I’m gonna try.”
“My agent says there are only a few truths that have stood the test of time. To me music is one of ’em, and the mandolin is at the top of my list.”
“Me too, Bibey. Good luck in your travels.”
“Same to you, Mike.” We shook hands and parted ways, but I am sure we have not seen the last of each other. It is always good to make a new mandolin friend, and Mike Marshall is talented beyond my understanding. There is much I can learn from him in my quest.