This March Faculty Spotlight belongs to none other than Alan Wyatt! Alan Wyatt is one of our commercial business professors, as well as teaching applied saxophone. Even though he is in his well deserved sabbatical, we had the chance to ask him a few questions – which he answered all the way from Poland!
Q: How long have you been working at Lee?
A: I started teaching part-time in the fall of 1990, and was later offered a full-time position in the fall of 1996. In addition to directing the Jazz Ensemble and continuing to teach saxophone students, I taught Theory I and two Aural Skills courses. There was no Music Business degree back in those days.
Q: How has it been taking a sabbatical in Poland and what have you been learning in your time there?
A: Poland is absolutely wonderful, COVID 19 notwithstanding, and is more of less what I expected it to be. I’ve observed that my Polish neighbors seem to be taking everything in stride. Being that many Pols remember well the days of communism (about 30 years ago) they seem not so quick to second-guess the decisions of those in authority like Americans tend to do. Store employees and food delivery service people wear gloves. I was standing in a line waiting to get a pack of butter at the local “Delikatesy” which it clearly is NOT in the traditional sense. It’s more of a liquor store that happens to have chips, milk, band aids, etc. The door to the store was actually closed, but a window a little over a foot square was opened and the employee was taking orders through the window. Once the guy in front left with his two bottles of vodka, the lady in front of me walked up to the counter. We all stood about 5 feet apart from each other. And when it was my turn, the lady showed me the kind of butter they had sale and I paid for it with Polish money which she accepted in her gloved hands. What I’ve learned by observation is that Pols in general are very courteous people, very mindful of others, specifically pedestrians standing at the edge of sidewalks waiting to cross streets. I was driving on what we would call an “interstate” (4-lane highway) to Tychy (good luck pronouncing that) to have dinner with some friends. At some point there was an indication that the two lanes would reduce down to one due to construction. As we began to slow down approaching the lane closure, it was as if some authority from above had signaled to everyone “zipper drill” and immediately we folded into one lane without any hesitancy as if we had rehearsed it…something I’ve only ever experienced in crowded church parking lots.
Q: Has the coronavirus affected your sabbatical?
A: As far as sabbatical interruption goes, a big part of my goals center around rekindling my limited association with the Jazz Department here at the Academy of Music in Katowice. I was making significant headway in that regard until the schools and colleges here were forced to close, more or less in the same boat as American schools and colleges. So this has summarily brought that aspect of my goals to a screeching halt for now. At this point I don’t know yet if schools will resume on March 26 as originally projected. If that’s the case, then there’s a good chance that the experiences I had hoped for may fruition. In the meantime, I’ve been working on some jazz ensemble arrangements that I started last summer and hope to get competed before I return. I’ve also been hanging out with my awesome Polish family, Norbert and Ania Pawlak who are both Lee Alums, jazz musicians, worship leaders, educators, and the parents of two amazing kids!
Q: What advice would you give students during this time of uncertainty?
A: My advise to students during this crisis is to basically cover the mirrors. What do I mean by this? Think of others first, then yourself. Americans TALK about putting others first but don’t actually DO this…and I am as just as guilty as the next. So what I’m trying to do to get through this crisis is essentially to be more “Polish” about all of this. Accountability doesn’t start with “you” as many well-intentioned companies espouse, it starts with ME! It starts with me stepping up my game and doing the little things that I can do to help the situation, no matter how insignificant it may seem in the great scheme of things. Imagine if everyone adopted that attitude, where might that lead us? Imagine if the love we say we have for others (or think to ourselves that we have for others) actually produced a higher level of awareness of the needs of others around us, compelling us to new acts of kindness or consideration, given with higher levels of respect and compassion. This is why we as Christians need to carefully consider this. The world has been suffering for a lot longer than this latest crisis has been upon us. We have a tremendous opportunity to show the world the kind of love that we’ve been given – undeserved, unconditional, unlimited. We could learn a lot from our Polish neighbors – I certainly have.
We are so thankful to have such a wonderful jazz instructor, and we can’t wait for Alan Wyatt to get back on campus!
Check out a clip from Alan’s last faculty recital below!