Postcard from Katrina Turman

Hello to all San Francisco Girls Chorus Families and to the community,

Katrina Turman at The Eagle’s Nest in Berchtesgaden, Germany
Katrina Turman at The Eagle’s Nest in Berchtesgaden, Germany

It has been only a few months since I began working for SFGC and it has been such a wonderful experience getting to know my students and their families. To help you all get to know me a little better, I was invited to write this postcard. I love the idea of doing a community outreach to connect the SFGC staff and faculty to the families and children we work with every day. I hope you enjoy!

I love to travel. I love being pushed outside my comfort zone, trying new foods, meeting people completely different from me and then realizing that we have a lot in common. I love traveling alone or with companions; there is something to be learned in either scenario. Traveling, even locally, is something that I believe is necessary for my general well-being. As a child, I traveled nationally and internationally with a children’s choir every year. These trips instilled in me a sense of fascination and respect for the world around us. A knowledge that there is much more outside of my immediate world. I have been so very lucky to have lived abroad a few times now, first in Germany and then in Hungary. While I improved as a musician while residing in both countries, I truly feel that I improved even more as a human being. In Germany, I learned patience while intensively studying a new language, independence while traveling around solo for the first time, and I learned that more than one place can feel like home.

These experiences absolutely led me to feel capable enough to apply to the intensive Kodály program in Kecskemét, Hungary one year later. If you’re interested in learning more about Zoltán Kodály and his teachings, please go HERE.

In Kecskemét, I was a full-time music student, so my musical abilities naturally improved. Yet, again, I feel that what I learned about the world around me during my time there is arguably more important than my expanded knowledge of harmony. Living in Hungary was an extreme experience for me. If you think learning Spanish or French is difficult, you should try Hungarian some time! Test your Hungarian skills HERE!

I was often stuck relying on sign language and the kindness of others while trying to communicate in our small town. Hungary is a very traditional country with an interesting mix of East and West. Part of continental Europe, its ancestors originally hail from Mongolia. My music teachers at the Kodály Institute, while incredibly caring individuals, were also very hard and straightforward. It is their belief that a student needs to be torn apart to be reconstructed in the proper way. While I grew to appreciate and even like their honesty and teaching style, it was an incredibly difficult transition for me (a somewhat pampered American) to overcome in those initial months. Yes, I learned to read music faster and minimize mistakes, to give a clear upbeat, and what the best pedagogical method was to teach a class to sing in multiple part harmony. Yet, from those same lessons, I also learned to take criticism, to push myself further than I thought possible, to support my classmates, and to accept my imperfections.

I have found that exploration and travel can give back so much more than what the traveler puts into it. There are countless beautiful moments I have locked away in my memory that never would have been possible if I stayed stationary. I have gotten to perform with 100,000 singers in Estonia, experienced the horrors of visiting World War II concentration camps at Dachau in Munich, climbed the Dolomite mountains, gotten lost in downtown Hong Kong. I will have these memories forever.

Thank you for reading a little about me. Whether you are traveling this holiday season or staying close by, I wish you a pleasant holiday break and I hope to see you all on December 19th at Davies Symphony Hall!

Sincerely, Katrina Turman