The Nature of Trees is dedicated to everyone in the music education community. To me, the nature of trees is love, resilience, patience, strength, adaptability, interconnectedness, and so much more. The nature of trees is to co-create an environment in which everyone can thrive, and I think this is a perfect metaphor for what we do in music education. 

This piece was commissioned by the National Band Association at Indiana University to be premiered by the IU Concert Band, conducted by Dr. Jason Nam. The students asked me to create a piece that would explore the emotional experience of returning to band after an extended hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I wanted to give them something hopeful, but I also wanted to be honest. This chapter of our lives has been tumultuous, heartbreaking, and transformative; we are not returning to the world we knew before. Writing this piece meant facing these feelings and allowing them to exist alongside gratitude and optimism. And so, this piece includes a wide spectrum of emotions, including moments of joy, yearning, hesitation, nostalgia, and of course, hope. 

The members of the NBA-IU collaborated with the IU Center for Rural Engagement, and invited four local high school bands and their directors to participate in this project:

Paoli High School (Bill Laughlin and Christian Karkosky)
Salem High School (Bonnie Harmon)
Brown County High School (Matt Finley)
Southridge High School (Lannie Butler)

I am grateful to these communities for their support of this project and thrilled to have been able to contribute to a meaningful musical experience for their students. 

As a small gesture of appreciation to the trees that sustain all life and provide inspiration for music such as this, one dollar from every sale of this piece is donated to Tree Canada. To learn about this organization and their meaningful work, visit

[Cover image by Cait Nishimura]