Why a Conservatory?

Why a Conservatory?
A PERSONAL VISION     by Robert Humphrey, Founder
My long-time friend and mentor, the late Bob Winford, taught me a very valuable lesson a few years ago. We were in the midst of procuring financing for a theme park and destination resort to be built in southern California. It isn’t easy finding almost 2.5 billion dollars to finance a dream that only existed on paper at the time. Bob often stayed in our home when he wasn’t at his in Orlando or overseeing one of his projects in China. Sitting on our patio one evening discussing various milestones we had already achieved, I commented something about how many people wanted to be a part of it once they understood his project. He made a very profound statement that has stuck with me ever since. He said, “If you have a big enough dream, others will catch on to it…..if they don’t, it’s because you aren’t dreaming big enough”. I like to add to that bit of wisdom with this….. “a dream that grows big enough eventually becomes a vision.” Bob very unexpectedly passed away before he saw his dream realized, but the almost ten years of efforts he put into the project spawned an incredible group of entrepreneurs and dreamers who are moving and shaking several aspects of the theme park and entertainment industries today.
I share this to make one point. The Conservatory of the Plains and Academy of the Arts has been a dream of mine for a long time and it’s a dream big enough that it has already garnered the support of some folks with very impressive credentials who want to be a part of it either directly or indirectly. What we are looking for now is a community with the desire to grasp such a vision and partner with us in making the dream a reality.
The big question I always get when sharing this vision is….”WHY?” Why a Conservatory/Academy…Why the Texas panhandle?
The “WHY” is because I believe that Music is a Divine gift.  All through the course of history we find that music has always been with us. The Bible itself is replete with examples of how music was used to shape events. David’s harp soothed a king’s anger. The blowing of trumpets brought down the walls of Jericho. Heavenly choirs sang at the birth of our Lord. The cadence of drums gave strength to marching troops too weary to carry themselves into battle. Among mankind’s first inventions were instruments upon which he could produce sound. An integral part of every educational system for centuries has been the inclusion of some form of music education. Music knows no race, no creed, no doctrine….it is the one constant that unites humanity in spite of political, social or religious beliefs. I believe that such a gift could only come from our Creator and with it comes the responsibility to preserve and nurture it for every generation. Music continues to evolve into unlimited realms of expression without ever being depleted of the combinations of notes from the simplicity of the chromatic scale and the inherent rhythms of everyday life.
Over the past years we have seen a decline in music education in our public schools. Funds formerly set aside for band, orchestra, choir, theater and other artistic endeavors have been siphoned off to make up for the short-falls in other areas considered more important. The emphasis is put on mathematics, sciences, and other courses of study deemed more necessary to the advancement of modern society. As valuable and necessary as those disciplines are, this attitude is robbing future generations of the cultural aspects that provide mankind with the motivation to explore the more ethereal and creative realms of our consciousness. In fact, it is a widely accepted scientific conclusion that music actually enhances the learning processes. Music is in effect a conglomeration of science, with its tonal applications and sound waves, mathematics, by virtue of sequentially placed note values and rhythms to drive it, and chemistry, because it can be proven to alter the chemical reactions of the brain under certain conditions to the point that music therapy has become a valid treatment for certain forms of mental and physical illness. It would seem that this “gift” is in fact the Divine catalyst that brings order to an otherwise chaotic existence.
This is the “WHY” that I have dreamed of a facility that can provide not only an education in the fine arts, but a place where artists of like mind can study, perform and explore together in an atmosphere where creativity thrives and is shared. Music as education can be restored to the public schools and the general public with beneficial byproducts that will not only justify its presence but will enhance the supportive communities behind it.
“To infinity, and beyond!” These are not the immortal words of some great philosopher, but the catchy phrase of Buzz Lightyear, the animated futuristic astronaut from the Toy Story movie series. Still, it gives rise to a fact and Biblical principle that “without vision the people perish”. I say that to make this point….the Conservatory and Academy of the Arts is only a beginning point in an effort to elevate the performing arts to higher plateaus. The dream, or vision if you will, does not stop with a successful school. It progresses into the growth of a community that will grasp all the peripheral aspects of education and performance as others have done. Geographical location has very little impact on such an endeavor; in fact, some of the most successful venues have been located away from the high-density populations.
I have chosen Perryton, Texas for a number of reasons. I was born and raised there, educated in the Texas Public School System, attended college at West Texas State University, and have a very high respect for the wholesome family values and work ethic I learned there. Having lived and worked in a number of areas of our nation over the past few decades, I have always appreciated the pioneer spirit that remains so prevalent in the psyche of rural Texans. The same spirit that overcame incredible obstacles to tame a wild and unpredictable land lives on today in the hearts of subsequent generations who understand the fruits of manual labor and freedom of thought, as well as an intrinsic appreciation for the artistic values that shape each generation.

We have developed a very close working relationship with Frank Phillips College, a well-established institution for over 60 years, which will serve as the academic arm of the Conservatory.  Our association with them allows us ready facilities and the opportunity to work within their academic structure while also providing them with teachers to flesh out their music curriculum.

The introduction of after-school, weekend, holiday, and summer educational enhancements to extend the training of area student musicians, along with the encouragement to move into the university system upon high school graduation could prove quite beneficial to all concerned. Our goal in the Academy is to train area students into more advanced levels than otherwise provided in public education efforts.

No institution is bigger than the people who make it happen. Such a vision as I have proposed will require the efforts of many talented and dedicated musicians, teachers, business people and professionals on many levels of expertise. It will also require the cooperation of a visionary community that understands the potential of growth from such a project. I believe we can have the finest institution of its kind in the nation. I also believe that we can have the caliber of ensembles that will entice people to travel great distances to be a part of them or simply to experience the concerts. And finally, I firmly believe such a successful program can be reproduced over and over again so that communities all across this nation and even abroad have the same opportunity.