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A Farewell from Marie Tai, COO

November 8th, 2019 in Blog with NO COMMENTS

From the moment I entered Community Music Center of Boston almost 23 years ago, I was home. As a Boston Latin Academy student looking to be around music and people who also loved music, I was encouraged by my band director and first clarinet teacher to reach out to CMCB and so I did. That turned out to be one of the best, if not the best decision I have made in my life.

My story is one with humble beginnings and dreams of a brighter future. As the youngest daughter of Chinese immigrants who settled in Boston, my home was filled with stories of my parents’ sacrifices, hardships, and limited resources. My mom, in particular, made it clear to my sister and me that we would have to find ways to take care of ourselves and each other, take advantage of opportunities, and be grateful for any help given. I attended schools where I did not look like other students and was teased so much that I often cried going home. It was tough to reconcile the Chinese traditions that my parents instilled at home with the outside dominant culture. Life changed when I started music lessons because I found an outlet that gave me comfort and joy.

I first came to CMCB in 1996 when I met Lucy Joan Sollogub, former SummerARTS director who welcomed me to the school with a huge smile and a chance to volunteer as a SummerARTS intern. I loved everything about my internship — being with the students, bonding with my peers, and talking to the administrators. At the end of the program, former Executive Director David Lapin asked me whether I would like to help in the front office (I said yes, of course) and thus began my introduction to arts administration. In addition to this part-time job and my school responsibilities, I took clarinet lessons with Kathy Matasy and Earl Grant Lawrence, both of whom are actively teaching, until I graduated high school.

CMCB provided more than music lessons. I was in an environment where I could thrive and dream of what is possible. I developed life skills including learning from my mistakes, celebrating differences while working together, and being open-minded. I also had an opportunity that my parents did not have— to get a college education at Berklee College of Music. These experiences at CMCB led me to a lifelong commitment to arts education. I knew I wanted to help create pathways and provide opportunities similar to the ones I had.

In 2004, I returned to CMCB as the registrar and was able to grow as an arts administrator. Somewhere between my many roles—Administrative Director, Associate Director and Chief Operating Officer—I earned an MBA and was able to share knowledge. Throughout my 15 year journey that included multiple strategic plans, helping to build systems and expanding programs, I was reminded of why I do what I do. It is for the students, from the young to the young at heart. I see how CMCB transforms lives because my life has been transformed.

I am leaving CMCB with excitement for its vibrant future under the inspiring and caring leadership of Executive Director Lecolion Washington. Since his arrival in 2017, Lecolion has been an important thought partner in all aspects of my work and has been one of my biggest advocates. I could not ask for a better colleague, advisor, and friend. I am grateful to have worked with a team of dedicated staff and faculty who are doing the vital work to foster healthy and just communities. As I move into the next phase of my career in the Office of the Arts at Harvard University, I will bring the values of hard work, integrity, teamwork, and kindness that shaped my work at CMCB. It has been an honor and privilege to be part of CMCB, a place that will always be home. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

 

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Marie will be playing next week at Performathon in the 3pm hour. Please consider donating to her fundraising page to help her reach her goal of $2500 to support our scholarship fund.

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