In the Spotlight

Ian Munro

Ian Munro attended Walden’s Teacher Training Institute for three summers, and served several years on the faculty of both YMP and CMR, as well as on staff. Ian is one of the wonderful donors whose support makes our program possible. He also gives to Walden by offering his time and care in making beautiful food for Walden events, including our upcoming celebration on March 7.

How and when did your relationship with Walden begin?

In 2008, I was studying with Andrea Clearfield, who has previously been a Composer-in-Residence at Walden. She had heard Walden was looking for participants in the Teacher Training Institute, so she mentioned it to me. Oddly enough, that same week I had gotten a postcard for TTI, maybe by way of the American Composers Forum. It seemed interesting, and I’d never heard of it before. At the time, I was in college and I wasn’t really thinking of being a teacher, but both of these recommendations in the same week struck me, so I applied to TTI. I got really hooked on the approach to musicianship and creativity in music at Walden, so I did three levels of TTI. I joined the faculty as soon as I could when I graduated in 2010.

What has been your relationship with Walden since then?

I was on the faculty for four and half years, which was really great. I taught composition, musicianship, computer musicianship, and some jazz. I taught at the Creative Musicians Retreat for one year, and it was really fun to work with adults on similar material. I really enjoyed that. The half year I mentioned was when I was working fulltime in New York for Face the Music, and Walden partnered with Face the Music to create the Monadnock Institute. We brought 8-10 students to do a two-week, performance-focused version of Walden. Since then, I’ve tried to stay involved. I go to Walden events in New York and I’m a donor, but now that I work full time not in a school setting, I don’t have summers free to work at Walden anymore.

Could you describe a favorite Walden memory?

There’s a lot of them. But one in particular was in 2012, which was sort of the John Cage centennial, marking 100 years since his birth. Matt Gold was a visiting artist at YMP with the Walden School Players, and he put together a massive John Cage celebration. It was a Wednesday night, and there were performances all over the quad–inside, outside, choral works, solo pieces, number works–music all over the place. It was a happening. The YMP students, all these middle and high school kids, were performing and participating and spectating. I thought, “This is the weirdest stuff I’ve ever seen, and everyone is so into it. It’s amazing.”

How are music and creativity a part of your life now?

I play piano. But more than that, creativity is something that Walden really drives home–weaving creativity through everything we do. I’ve had periods when I don’t play as much music, but I express creativity in other ways, such as spending a lot of time in the kitchen, trying a new recipe every night. I’ve gotten really into computer musicianship, working more with web audio, not as much composition, but creating interactive web apps and instruments and interactions. There’s a lot of really cool stuff happening in that realm.

Why do you give to Walden?

I think Walden is a community that has given me a lot, and I believe in giving back. I got a lot from Walden in terms of approach to music, approach to life, seeing transformation happen in kids’ lives over the course of the summer. It’s really important to me that there are places like that in the world, so I give to Walden.

What is a non-musical hobby you love?

I’ll skip cooking, because I already talked about it. I love woodworking. I feel like it’s similar to music and composition in some ways. There’s a lot of planning that goes into it, but the fun part is that you still get to a place where you have a physical connection to the art and craft that’s happening. The actions you take are manifested in what’s created. It’s a good balance to music and cooking.