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…