Lara Mac Lean, Orchestra
Knight Errant: Where were you before BSM?
Lara Mac Lean: I live in St. Paul, and I grew up in the Roseville area.
KE: What’s your teaching background?
LML: I have a Masters in Education and an Undergraduate degree in Violin Performance. I also have a Masters that I worked on in conducting, so I’ve taught at the Convent of the Visitation school before and I taught at Minnehaha Academy before that, but I had a stint in between where I taught for 8 years at Gustavus Adolphus College. I loved it; it was my favorite job ever, but the commute, [I] was just like, “I can’t be in the car anymore.” I was so sad to leave that job.
KE: What specific classes will you teach this year?
LML: I’ll be teaching all strings: the Chamber Orchestra, the High School Orchestra, and the Middle School Orchestra, but, and this is huge, I would like to offer, if you’ve never played a string instrument before, one morning and one afternoon, to come in and start playing a string instrument, if you want. And, in the future, I would love to teach a guitar class during the school day. I think that would be really cool, just to add variety.
KE: Why do you enjoy teaching?
LML: You know, here’s the funny thing. When I was in graduate school for Violin Performance and Conducting, I was in a car accident, which actually shattered my jaw, which is part of how you play, so I was done, and one of my teachers said, “Well, why don’t you teach?” And I was like, “I hate children.” And she was like, “No you don’t.” And then that summer, she made me go to MacPhail and teach with her. And I realized, I love this. Whether they want to be a professional musician or not, I just love it. I do teach, but I love coaching students to awaken and find their way of learning, because it’s as unique as their fingerprint. So, I very much love kids, [but] I’ll call them out when they drive me completely [crazy] in a very Christian way. It was the biggest surprise at age 23 that I loved it so much, so that’s when I started teaching.
KE: How will you contribute to the BSM community?
LML: I love being happy. Who doesn’t? Hello, if you don’t, check yourself in. From when my daughter visited here, she told me that the teachers here were legit happy. And I thought that’s really cool. At this point in my life, I’m so excited to be part of a happy community and I’m really excited to contribute to that, and I hopefully can help with the music. I’m good at playing violin, like really good, so I can contribute in many different musical ways, which I hope people will appreciate. It’s a good baby step in, to be a part of making high school really fabulous for the students here.
KE: What do you look forward to in the new year?
LML: The new start. I’m really excited about everything being new and fresh. A school year is a school year, and it can end up being redundant. I never in my life have liked being locked up into something, or feel like it’s suffocating me, and like I do this for 25 years and then retirement and then I have to knit or make baskets or something. I like variety and change and not knowing what’s going to happen. This is all new, and I’m just going to step in the path that has been laid before me but also let my toes kind of squiggle out a little bit and bring my own personality here.
KE: What is your favorite TV show?
LML: This is so embarrassing, do I have to be honest? I am morbidly obsessed with like these train wreck shows like the Kardashians and these pro-ball wives. I just watch it, and I don’t know why I’m so fascinated by it.
KE: Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, or Beyoncé?
LML: Really? I would have to say Beyoncé, just on media-presented character alone. I’m not a big fan of all of them, or that whole “put a ring on it” thing.
KE: Cats or Dogs?
LML: Um, ferret? I have a ferret. My family, we have a cat, we have a dog, we have a ferret, we have a bearded dragon, we have a hermit crab, we have a beta fish, and my son is so desperate for a teddy bear hamster. I don’t know, I just love animals. That’s a hard one because I have a cat and a dog. And all those other ones.
KE: Favorite childhood memory?
LML: So, this is strange. I’m half Polynesian and half white, and I was adopted to a very Norwegian family near Canada. So I was like the darkest child in this Norwegian town of like 420 people, and we lived on a farm. My dad’s brother lived on the farm too with my grandparents, and a litter of children, so we would run into the far field and lay in the grass, and I just loved running in the field. We would hear our mom yelling that we had to work and I would lie down and whisper, “Don’t sit up or she’ll see us.” The total adrenaline of the “we’re so in trouble but don’t give it up,” and just laying there and seeing the grass and the daisies float in the sky and not wanting to get caught and just giggling. The rush of not giving it up… I don’t know, that’s really weird, but it was really fun at the same time.