There were many factors to consider when originally deciding who to interview for the oral history project. I wanted someone who I believed to be talented in his or her field while also being able to remain interesting and captivating throughout the course of the interview. I ultimately decided on my friend Michael Weaver. Michael is currently a church youth leader who still manages to keep himself busy with various instrumental and otherwise musical gigs. I met Michael this past summer when he played keyboard and french horn in a pit orchestra I directed for The Who’s Tommy. Upon meeting him at my first music rehearsal in June, I immediately recognized his ability to work as a dedicated musician while still remaining a friendly and engaging presence in a rehearsal situation. Taking all of this into consideration, Michael was the obvious choice for my oral history interview.
After making the initial decision of who to interview, the first step was contacting him to explain the project and ask if he would be interested. He enthusiastically agreed to help and I began to plan the interview’s framework. The plan was to follow these five key areas:
- Initial musical interest
- The first time he felt that music was the path he would take
- First professional gig
- Getting away from music
- His wife’s connection to WCC
I thought this was a good starting point, but even at this point in the process I fully expected things to change once the interview was actually happening. I chose not to give Michael the questions ahead of time, but I told him to begin thinking about the role music had over the course of his life up to this point.
We planned for the interview to take place in his church after a handbell ensemble rehearsal. As far as recording equipment goes, I originally wanted to record video with my iPhone and audio with an external microphone, merging the two on my computer. I ended up borrowing a handheld video camera from a friend and used it for both audio and video instead. I set up the tripod right in the middle of the church. After recording a test video to make sure everything was working properly, we began the interview. Once we had gotten through the first portion, I began to realize that I would need to improvise some topics branching off of the main ideas we were talking about. I think this added some nice flow to the interview that would have been absent if I had stuck strictly to the questions from my project proposal.
Just as I expected, Michael was a great person to interview. He is easy to talk to and does what he can to keep the flow going. He did not hesitate to joke to break up some of the more serious conversation and had exactly the demeanor necessary to keep interviews like this entertaining. I think the project was an overall success and I am interested to see how my peers’ interviews ended up.