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Have you met Sandburg’s Orchestra Director?

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Have you met Sandburg’s Orchestra Director?

This year, Sandburg High School welcomes Dr. Linda Nussbaum, the new orchestra director, to Sandburg’s music community. It is her first year teaching orchestra here at Sandburg but sixth overall as an orchestra director. Inspiration, opportunity, and love for music led her to the position of orchestra director at Sandburg.

Dr. Nussbaum is both a musician and a performer. When Dr. N was just four years old, she started playing the piano and took up violin when she turned nine.

As most children at first, she hated playing the violin, but Dr. Nussbaum says after six months of practice, “I was hooked and I haven’t looked back since.”

Music has taken her all around the world from Disney World and Bulls games to soloing for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Dr. Nussbaum explained that music has given her everything: a world that she could not otherwise imagine. When asked what has been most memorable in her career thus far, Dr. Nussbaum mentions that it is almost impossible to choose just one memory, but if she had to pick then it would be finding her partnered instrument.

About 17 or 18 years ago, Dr. N found a 1878 Hungarian violin of her dreams, and she describes her connection with the instrument: “I feel like I have my voice.”

Although, she acknowledges being able to conduct her first orchestra concert at Sandburg this past October as a very memorable moment that touched her heart.

One of Dr. Nussbaum’s most personal achievements was being the first American-born Lithuanian violinist to perform in free Lithuania in the year 1991. She was practicing to solo with an orchestra in Lithuania at the time. When tanks were shown on CNN, coming in on streets Dr. Nussbaum knew in Lithuania, she was worried that her opportunity to play would not work out. Her conductor told her that it would all turn around and three days later, at a two hour notice, she was on a plane to perform in free Lithuania in a time of hope and joy in her homeland.

Furthermore, finding a career in music was definitely not easy and took a lot of hard work and commitment. Dr. Nussbaum started out as a performer and private teacher for many years, but it was not until she substituted for a teacher during a maternity leave for six months, that Dr. N realized just how much she loved what she was doing. While in Hawaii, Dr. Nussbaum received an email asking if she could sub for a friend’s maternity leave and a phone call and two weeks later, she found herself standing in front of an orchestra of young musicians. After finding her inspiration, Dr. N went back to DePaul University to get a teacher’s certification. Before becoming a teacher, Dr. Nussbaum worked with everything from medicine to consulting and realized that she feels most like herself in music and that in a way, “music chooses you”.

As a previous Sandburg student, when the job opportunity came along to apply to teach orchestra here, Dr. Nussbaum wanted it so much that she was afraid she would not land it. Now, she says that her job is a lot of fun and she likes working with such young musicians, even though it is a lot of work.

Dr. N teaches four different levels of orchestra, each with their own personality, and speaks about them saying, “I have to be four different people most days of the week, while still being myself.”

She loves seeing the groups come together and feel like an ensemble in order to unite like a family. Dr. Nussbaum plans on raising the level of all the orchestras, improving their growth, and challenging the students as musicians throughout orchestral pieces this year.

After being asked about the influence of music over Dr. Nussbaum’s life, she said, “Music made my life a place where every day is different, but with a unifying purpose. I know I am here to make and share music and it is really cool seeing it manifest itself every day.”

Moreover, Dr. Nussbaum wants people to know that there is a strong, fun, and talented orchestra program in Sandburg’s community and she invites everyone to “Come and see what we’re doing down here.”

Dr. Nussbaum advises all students at Sandburg to, “Have fun being yourself.”

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