Arts

Faculty Feature: Diane Sachs Connects with Students through Work in the Music Department

M.Zhang/The Phillipian

Diane Sachs has an open door policy, inviting students who want to talk or those who just want a piece of chocolate.

Diane Sachs, Music Department Office Manager, showed up to her Andover job interview 16 years ago looking to become a part of the Shuman Admissions team. An Instructor in Physical Education and a health educator at the time, Sachs took the job as Office Manager despite not having any experience in music. She expressed that the reason she has stayed at her current job is because of the students.

Sachs said, “This wasn’t where I was looking to be, but after I got through my first very difficult year not knowing anything about music, I just fell in love with the kids. I wanted that kid interaction that I wouldn’t have had in the admissions office… The kids were what kept me here.”

As Office Manager, Sachs oversees activities in the music department such as music lessons, ordering supplies, copying music, locker assignments, and rentals, as well as day-to-day interactions. She also helps organize the department’s biennial music tours.

“It’s just always exciting to experience that with kids, and also to see them perform and do so wonderfully in new venues, new culture. That’s what we work for. In athletics you go and you compete. In music, we go out and we perform,” said Sachs.

According to Sachs, going on music tours with students has been a highlight of her job. The tours have traveled to places in the U.S. and Canada, as well as farther locations such as China, Puerto Rico, Hungary, Ireland, and Iceland.

“Each one [of the tours] is really unique, and all of them have been wonderful. I particularly liked Iceland, because I’m more of an outdoors person, so that was really great. And the people were so warm and welcoming. There were smaller venues, more intimate, the kids really performed well,” said Sachs.

Sachs said that her job has allowed her to form lifelong relationships with students. For instance, she is still in touch with a student, Sol Jin ’07, whom she met on her first day working at Andover in 2003. According to James Lemuel ’19, Sachs always has time to talk to students and always has chocolate in her office.

“It’s not really one moment that defines Mrs. Sachs for me,” wrote Lemuel in an email to The Phillipian. “It’s the fact that her door is always open and that she’s really there for the students. In all those moments, as much as she is an adult, she’s also trying to be your friend.”

Alisa Crüger-Cain ’20 said that Sachs is her favorite person on campus. She frequently stops by the music office to talk when she is practicing in Graves.

“Every day I eat a piece of chocolate from Ms. Sachs’s office… She is the heart of the Music Department. The thing with Ms. Sachs is that she makes everyone’s life easier on campus every day, but you don’t know it because she does it behind the scenes,” said Crüger-Cain.

During her career as Office Manager, Sachs witnessed changes in the Music Department and sees the opportunity for growth.

“I want to say that the biggest change I’ve witnessed is the drop in lessons. We were down probably around 25 percent in lessons… We’re not giving as many lessons, but the building is still as busy. I think the change is that we need a new building, because this has always been crowded and continues to be crowded, I see that even more and more during the time I’ve been here that it would be great to see that change,” said Sachs.

What Sachs anticipates most in the new music building is the extra space it would provide. According to Sachs, a centralized music building will also eliminate the need to transfer instruments between Graves Hall and the Cochran Chapel.

“The biggest challenge [right now is] finding enough places for the kids to practice… [also] the logistics of trying to keep two spaces running, and not having double the equipment that we can just keep in each location,” said Sachs.

Jan 25, 2019