A theme of balance keeps popping up in Jocelyn Crosby’s life.
It’s evident in how she manages her time, from working as a high school music teacher at Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School in West Chester to giving private lessons in her Lancaster home and at Lancaster Conservatory of Music.
Amid all of that, she’s also pursuing a Master of Science in education by taking online courses through the University of Wisconsin Stout. And somehow, she’s also finding time to improve her own craft as a flute player and perform.
So naturally, there’s balance in the theme of her latest musical program, “Peace and Plenty.” The first half is quiet and reflective, while the second half leans into the idea of excess with some more luxurious selections.
Crosby, joined by pianist Doug Wimer, will open the 2019-20 Musical Arts Concert Series at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Neffsville on Saturday. Crosby also will incorporate one piccolo number into the program.
Admission is free, but a freewill offering will be collected. Ten percent of the proceeds from the offering will benefit the rebuilding of Tanzania’s Busoka Lutheran Church, which was destroyed by an earthquake. Busoka is a companion congregation of St. Peter’s.
Crosby, originally of Pottstown, moved to Lancaster after getting married three years ago. Although not from a particularly musical family, she started on the flute when she was just 8.
“I was interested initially in the saxophone, but all my friends were playing the flute, so my mom pointed that out,” Crosby says.
It might be one of the best case scenarios of following the crowd — Crosby took to the flute naturally, and by the end of her first year playing, the band director suggested she take private lessons.
Still, she just saw it as something she did for fun. But after winning an elementary school music award, she realized she might have a knack for it.
“I thought, oh wow, maybe I could do this,” Crosby says.
There were moments of frustration, of course.
“I would throw my book across the room because the flute would just not obey my fingers,” Crosby says.
Once, she was so mad that she threatened to quit. Her mom rolled her eyes, knowing she would never step away from the instrument.
Flute also gave her an outlet to find music she deeply connected with. She struggled to find music she liked as a child, and never really got into pop music.
“Music by French composers really grabbed me young, just very beautiful melodies,” Crosby says. “I am a sucker for a good melody.”
In high school, she did a project shortly before graduating where she taught people to play the flute. She had so much fun that she realized she wanted to incorporate teaching into her flute career.
She tries to emulate the positive experiences she’s had with her flute instructors with her own students.
“They’ve all been very strong women, which I really admired. ... I guess they always had very high expectations of me as well,” Crosby says. “If I came in and my practicing wasn’t there, they let me know it wasn’t there, in so many words. So, I also try to keep my expectations high.”
Her first year of teaching didn’t leave much time for her own performance, though. So, in recent years, she’s made a concerted effort to make time to practice and play herself.
Saturday’s concert will be the debut of “Peace and Plenty,” a program Crosby hopes to play in several states over the next few months.
One of the selections, “In the Shadow of Thy Wing,” was written by Lancaster composer Alisa Bair. The piece is based on Psalm 63.
“I’m pretty religious myself, so I always work some kind of sacred music component, even if it’s short,” Crosby says.
Whether the music is sacred or secular, performing in a church is a special treat for Crosby.
“It’s more intimate in a lot of ways than necessarily on a stage, which can feel a little distant you know?” Crosby says. “Especially, what you don’t realize is in a lot of concert venues the lights kind of blind you. You can’t even necessarily always see the audience. So a lot of these old churches around here have beautiful acoustics. It’s just a really nice venue to be able to see and communicate with my audience a little better.”
Crosby met her performance partner, Wimer, through their own church, St. Stephen Reformed Church in New Holland.
“We communicate well during rehearsals, and anyone who watches us perform will see that as well, because we’re always kind of checking with one another and kind of moving together,” Crosby says.
The flute player hopes that Saturday’s concert will be enjoyable for all, even those unfamiliar with the world of classical music. She says she prioritizes accessibility and diversity when crafting a program, including music by women composers and composers of color. And, the pieces might have an element that seem familiar to a nonclassical listener, like a dance element or fun rhythm.
“There are a lot of people who maybe think they don’t like classical music, but I bet if they would come they might change their minds,” Crosby says.