“The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.” Socrates
Finn* had heard about Dr. Marcus* for years. He taught at the local community college, had the best (and biggest) church position in town and conducted the premier community chorus in the region. Finn taught elementary school music and had a very nice church job, just not as big or important as Dr. Marcus’s. It was a good enough position for someone starting out in the profession.
Finn was given the impression, by almost everyone who knew Dr. Marcus, he was an unforgiving perfectionist. He didn’t tolerate mistakes, lateness or missed rehearsals. He was tough and believed he was the best choral director in the area and since he had the plum jobs, everyone seemed to agree with him. There was gossip Finn would be competition for him, started NOT by Finn. And Finn was embarrassed by it.
His first year in the area, Finn attended the community chorus’s gala holiday concert; it was good but nothing special. When the person he came with suggested he go backstage, he avoided doing so by saying his wife was ill. The parent of one of his students suggested he join the community chorus, he declined, saying he was too busy right now but perhaps he would in the future. Finn thought Dr. Marcus sounded intimidating and had no desire to meet him. He knew he would, eventually.
Their paths never crossed the whole time Finn taught elementary school music, about five years. A few years ago, Finn took a job at the local high school as their director of choirs and finally met Dr. Marcus. It was enlightening.
It was the high school’s college night and Dr. Marcus was there representing his college’s fine arts department. Finn introduced himself and Dr. Marcus looked confused. Then, suddenly, Dr. Marcus smiled and said he was happy to finally meet him. He extended his hand to Finn and shook it heartily. It seemed Dr. Marcus had heard much about Finn since he first moved into town.
What struck Finn first about Dr. Marcus was how nice he was and how complimentary. They agreed to meet for coffee during winter break that year, after school was out and their church Christmas obligations were over. It was a wonderful meeting and they became friends immediately.
Finn wanted to tell me his story because despite being initially afraid to meet the Great Dr. Marcus, he is happy he did. Finn may have been told Dr. Marcus was an unforgiving perfectionist but Dr. Marcus had been told Finn was an arrogant kid! After sharing what they had been told about each other, they came to the conclusion, some folks didn’t want them to get along. They decided to really get to know each other and, as they say, the rest is history.
In the five years they’ve known each other, they’ve become close friends. Finn and his spouse have been welcomed into Dr. Marcus’s family and Dr. Marcus—Julian*–is godfather to Finn’s oldest child. Dr. Marcus has been a mentor to Finn. Finn has helped Dr. Marcus in many ways, including teaching him to be more social media savvy for his community chorus. And Finn finally joined the chorus, becoming assistant director last year.
Dr. Marcus will retire in five years, just enough time for Finn to finish his DMA. He has every confidence Finn will get his jobs when he does. He considers Finn another son and looks forward to watching him succeed.
The reputations of both have improved since they met; folks talk about how the choruses in the area get along and how wonderful it is. All it took was for Finn and Dr. Marcus to meet and then to get to know each other.