In Loving memory of lance jo
Everyone who knew Mr. Lance Jo, has a “Mr. Jo” story, at least one if not several. Stories are rife regarding Mr. Jo’s influence on their lives and how he made a positive difference to the point of changing the course of their lives as they knew it. I too, have a “Mr. Jo” story. Mine is a story that was the very beginning of an approximate 15-year relationship and friendship. Yes, he became my friend too. But, the beginning is what we locals would call, “small kine scary”. I was teaching String Orchestra classes to students in grades 6-9 at Kamehameha Schools Maui in 2002. The school was still new so the grades increased as the students grew older each year. Dr. Paul Prevenas, the Kamehameha Schools Maui Elementary Principal at the time, wanted to start a violin program in at the lower school and asked me if I knew Lance Jo, whom he had recently met. Dr. Paul was very impressed with Lance and described him as “ a very nice, kind man”. He asked me to call Mr. Jo, whose glowing reputation I had already encountered, to ask if he would be willing to start a string program at the elementary school. Those of you who know me, know that 1) I don’t like to ask people for anything if I can help it, especially people I don’t know and 2) Mr. Jo was already a legend in the music education field. Who was I to be contacting him? So after putting it off for as long as I could (ok…stop laughing, those who know me) I made the “scary” call. After introducing myself and blaming Dr. Paul, oops, I mean letting Lance know that Dr. Paul had asked me to contact him and the reason why, there was that brief, awkward silence. Then came THE question: “What are your expectations?” in a rather terse tone. Insert heart thumping, taken by surprise, unexpected question emoji here. Gulp. All that came out of my mouth at that point was, “just love the students, that’s all”. Yup, must’ve been God speaking because I had no words of my own. I’m not sure when he said yes, if it was right then, or if he called me back, but Mr. Jo agreed to work with the young students teaching them to play the violin after school, thankfully without any further questions. And, that was the beginning of our relationship. Poor man didn’t know what he was getting into. I loved talking to Mr. Jo because he was so hilarious, all with a straight face, which made me crack up more! And yes, he also had so many nuggets of life lessons and wisdom that always made so much sense beyond words. They also made me and “us” meaning anyone he was speaking to at the moment, feel better regardless of the situation at hand. Mr. Jo was about quality, not quantity, high integrity and character regardless of the cost, and a man of dedication to everything and everyone he allowed into his life. In addition to continuing to conduct the MYPO students on Saturday mornings, Lance helped me by agreeing to substitute for me when I was forced to take a leave of absence from Kamehameha in the Fall of 2006…all while preparing for a trip to Carnegie Hall in June 2007. Needless to say, the students at Kamehameha students loved him and when deciding on which adults to take with us, Mr. Jo was at the top of the list. He was the perfect person knowing all of the students and all of the music, which in my own mind, equaled Assistant Conductor, or more accurately, Master Conductor. I knew if anything were to happen out of the ordinary, he could and would step right in without blinking an eye. I often think of how blessed I was to have him there for me always at the right time and I continue to give thanks to God, from whom all blessings flow. And, I believe one of the qualifying traits of an excellent leader is one who is also able to follow. No head trips, no personal agenda, no “my way or the highway”, no ulterior motives…just one who had the true heart of humility to simply help do what was needed for the bigger picture. That was my friend Lance!