Just the facts.

Greetings, my long-lost fiends.

Looks like we all will survive another school year in Paradise. It’s been a tuffy for your old pal Rat Fink. However, even an annus horribilis can have its sunny points, and this one most certainly did. Kids made some nice music, and it helped me to feel not so adrift.

I saw this on Facebook this morning:

(I especially liked the “10 yrs.” fact. :-) )

This graphic lists the benefits of children studying music, the effects of which purportedly last far into adulthood. I love that. But for all its excellent science and obvious positive results, I’d like to examine things in reverse:

What does performed music do for other people?

I often tell my students (they could likely quote me, chapter and verse, while rolling their eyes at the same time) that this whole choir thing isn’t about them, or me, or satisfying the content standards set down by the Ohio Department of Education. Rather, it’s about our audiences. We do this for them. We sing to bless people; for 45 minutes in an evening, we will strive to help people forget the stress of the day, or the argument they had with someone, or the bill collectors calling. For one shining moment, we create art and recognize beauty. (Hopefully.) What other class in school allows you to do that?

Sure, our rehearsals serve to make the kids better singers, better team players, and encourage working together for a common performance goal, but I desperately wish for them to view it as something far more important. I want them to make their audiences feel comforted, exhilarated, entertained, happy — whatever they need at the moment.

To extrapolate even further…I think it’s something we’ve lost as a culture: doing something purely for the benefit of others. Putting others first; deference. Many say the 1980s was the “me” decade. Perhaps. But if the 80s were focused on “me,” then the 2nd decade of the 21st century (the “teens?”) is most assuredly focused on “mine.” Don’t take anything that’s mine. I’m not sharing. Get away from my things because you didn’t work for them. Don’t say anything to my kid that doesn’t ooze admiration. I’ll insult you because I don’t like what you do/think/are/believe, but if you have a divergent opinion, shut up, because you’re stupid.

Where’s the focus on blessing people and being helpful and supportive and kind? And make no mistake: I’m not giving the Sermon on the Mount, here. I’ve been guilty of it all as well at times. It’s just that with the political (and I use that term loosely, given the current circus) climate encouraging those who kept their hate and selfishness heretofore somewhat hidden to now extol it in plain view, I think about it more.

Thoughts on a busy Saturday morning. I should be grading music history exams. Time to get to work. Happy weekend — I hope the sun’s out where you are! But for us, up here in the 40-degrees-and-pouring…

4 thoughts on “Just the facts.

  1. David

    Well said my Fink Friend…seemingly the skill and desire to engage in altruistic endeavors has all but died here in the good old USofA. Given the the climate Nationally, I guess it was to be expected.
    We are becoming a “critical” Nation and not in a good way. I realize that those are rather broad strokes and all generalizations are false, even that one…but, skills of affirmation, unselfish giving, kindness, tolerance, compassion and just caring are dying.
    So I thank you and kudos to you for teaching young minds the joy of music! Bless you for stretching their minds to consider blessing others with no reward save a standing O! You are one of my heroes because not only do you educate, you model for young minds what it means to be authentic, a person of integrity, compassionate and loving!
    Paul said to the Philippians “it is right for me to love you, for I have you in my heart.”
    Ditto for me! You, you Rat Fink are the Best!

    1. Rat Fink Post author

      Thank you, dear friend! As always, you describe current situations with accuracy and heart. I wish the world was different right now; maybe we’ve left it too long, and now it’s too late to stem the tide. I hope not. And we’re in the mutual hero society because I (and so many others), in addition to other reasons, am in awe of what you sacrificed for our country in the jungles of Viet Nam, when you were only a kid. I am continually, quietly amazed by it, truly. You’re one of the real heroes! Hugz

  2. Mavis

    Bravo, David & Fink! I always enjoy reading what the two of you have to say. I wish I could write like that. You both are definitely heroes. Actually, you’re two of my favorites!

    Bird, each and every one of your musicals and concerts are my time to be in another place. Especially in my mind and heart. Your students NEVER disappoint me. Listening to them takes me away from the problems of the day! The music you choose for them to sing always takes me to a better time. I appreciate all of you. Oh, and I never would have made it through school had I not been in the band playing my clarinet! The singing group we used to have in church (Brown Deer, Wisconsin) also brought me through some tough times. We were great! ;-)

    YES! Please God stop the rain!!!!!! And, thank you God, for my sister and David. Amen.

    1. Rat Fink Post author

      Thanks Mave! I remember singing with Missy, Joanne and Julie — we were pretty good for a bunch of middle school kids!

      And we finally got one day of no rain…YET. Enjoy!! Love you


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