Just the facts.

6 May, 2017
Rat Fink

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…

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David
David
6 May, 2017 9:42 am

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… Read more »

Mavis
Mavis
6 May, 2017 12:13 pm

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… Read more »