Writters / Jocelyn Vare & Connie Nimmo
Photography / Fishers Music Works
Marc Feeney, 40, is a Fishers resident with a passion for music. It all started when he was young, Feeney recalls dusting off a forgotten cornet hidden in his grandmother’s farmhouse attic. Intrigue set in and he tried to play the old horn. With a little determination and a lot of practice, he joined the fifth grade band at his elementary school.
“I loved making music because it was a fun challenge that set off new fireworks in my head,” Feeney says.
Music poured from his trumpet throughout high school. In fact, it was his life. When it came time to decide where he would go to college and what he would study, the choice was clear — music education at Ball State. He dreamed about becoming a music teacher and introducing bright young talent to the joy of music that he found so many years earlier.
As his youthful optimism waned, economic reality set in. Marketing seemed like a safer career choice. He made the decision to switch majors and his entire career path. He felt like he lost a huge part of himself but knew it was the practical thing to do. Feeney entered the workforce and placed his trumpet in a closet.
Feeney spent the next few years exploring new work opportunities but never felt quite as fulfilled as when he was performing with his trumpet. One day, his daughter Kennis asked Feeney about making music. He pulled his dusty trumpet out of the closet and let Kennis experiment with it — just like he did with his Grandma’s old cornet. Kennis’s interest began to grow. After all, she was a natural.
Suddenly, Feeney’s heart was filled. His daughter was playing music on an instrument he had long abandoned. The thought kept nagging at him, ‘I loved playing music. Why don’t I do this anymore?’
It was clear. Feeney had to play again.
Feeney looked to Fishers Music Works, a local non-profit that presents musical performances featuring Fishers residents. He was invited to join a jazz band performance, despite being completely out of practice. He accepted the challenge. In eight weeks, he got his playing chops back, reigniting his passion and rediscovering his talent.
Feeney has performed with Fishers Music Works ever since. His daughter, Kennis, now plays trumpet in her junior high band, and Fishers Music Works has grown to nine unique performing ensembles.
“A musical theatre group, a choir, a wind symphony, a jazz combo and even an opera troupe are active Fishers Music Works ensembles,” said organization president and Fishers resident, Rob Lawyer.
Feeney’s journey back to music resonated with Lawyer. Before becoming one of the founders of Fishers Music Works four years ago, Lawyer experienced his own musical reawakening. He picked up his drumsticks again when his kids got older. Lawyer easily discovered opportunities to perform in Indianapolis as a percussionist, but they required a substantial drive time.
‘Why can’t we create a community band right here in Fishers?’ he wondered. He connected with pastor and music professor, Dr. Keith Kunda, HSE Schools band teacher, Todd McCreary and co-founder of Fishers’ Ji-Eun Lee Music Academy, Doug Whisman. They created Fishers Music Works in 2013.
Feeney is now the organization’s vice-president and one of its strongest recruiters.
“If you love to perform – no matter how long it’s been – you should join us,” Feeney says. “Don’t keep your joy of music locked away.”
Today, about 250 individuals participate in Fishers Music Works ensembles as performers, backstage assistants or creative contributors. The organization continues to create new performing arts opportunities for Fishers residents to participate in and attend.
The nine different Fishers Music Works ensembles reflect a spectrum of participant musical expertise. For example, the wind symphony includes local professional musicians. Meanwhile, the choir includes newbies and seasoned vocalists singing side-by-side. Fishers Music Works encourages performers of any skill level to connect and explore musical opportunities. Participants share a love of music and a special camaraderie.
“I want people to stop saying that I used to play an instrument, I used to sing or I used to act,” says Feeney as he prepared for a recent performance with 40 other Fishers performers. “The joy of music and thrill of performance will always be a part of you. And, whether you are a part of the audience or take your place on stage, Fishers Music Works invites you to share in that joy again.”
Fishers Music Works is planning a robust 2017 performance season. Information about participation and performances can be found on FishersMusicWorks.org or the Fishers Music Works’ Facebook page.