We Are the Music Makers
Dr. Jerry Blackstone has devoted himself for 40 years to music making and the people that produce it with him. He is truly a generational talent, forging excellence through inspiration, artistry and dedication to detail. He has left in his wake a community of changed lives for those who have had the opportunity to work with him. A two time grammy winner, a pioneer at training the male voice, a brilliant conductor, and a master educator of all ages.
Jerry's students include leaders, teachers, and advocates for the arts across the globe, passing along the same gifts that he gave to them. This film follows his 30th and final year of teaching at the University of Michigan, painting the picture of his musical and personal impact told through the lives of his past and current students and colleagues.
THE FILM MAKER
We Are the Dreamers of Dreams
This project originated in 1992 when I was 14 years old and about to attend the Interlochen Arts Camp for the first time. I grew up a short distance away in Ludington Michigan, a town of 10,000 people. Coming to Interlochen and meeting kids from not only all over the state, but across the world, was tremendously life changing. Even more transformative was spending two weeks in a life altering vortex of choral singing that my young brain had never experienced with a man named Jerry Blackstone.
Fast forward 26 years: 3 summers at Interlochen, 3 years of Michigan Youth Chamber Singers, 1 year at the Interlochen Arts Academy, 4 years at a Conservatory of Music, 8 years working for Apple, 5 years as a band director, and 4 years as a business owner. I see a post on Facebook of Jerry holding a sign that says, "LAST First day of school", and I immediately had the idea to contact him and pitch the idea to film a documentary about his final year of teaching. By complete surprise, (and yet not surprising at all when you know Jerry) minutes later, he responded graciously with a yes.
Though I only spent about ten short weeks of combined time singing with Jerry, it has had a lasting impact on my life that stays with me today. The music making experience I was exposed to has changed me forever, elevating my perception of what is possible not just in music, but in creating relationship and community. The thousands of people he has inspired would agree that the world needs to know him too.
Everyone needs to sing.
If you have never sung in a choir, then it is my sincere hope that you get a chance to do so, and soon! Choral music IS powerful. There is a study from the Sahlgrenska Academy at Gothenburg University in Sweden that shows that when people sing together in a choir, their heartbeats not only slow down but actually synchronize with each other. When you have the privilege of singing with a great conductor, there is an internal as well as external phenomenon that takes place that has the ability to affect us at a cellular level. It is pure community in an age of separation. Jerry Blackstone's mission has been to train as many great conductors as possible during his time at the University of Michigan. Choral singing is an incredible, collaborative experience and creating music and the ability to produce it with others is a special kind of gift.
This work exists to continue to "sound the horn" about the joy and privilege of music making. As you follow Jerry Blackstone through his final year of collegiate teaching and beyond, you will fall in love with the art of choral singing and catch a glimpse of the power of a time honored craft that is often overlooked in an age of digital downloads and instant gratification. Hearing from his past students and colleagues, it becomes quickly apparent that Jerry's life is full of making music at the highest level. He is an uncompromising, yet gentle warrior for musical excellence, and his impact on the hearts and souls of so many has been to share that gift of music with as many as possible.