One of my parental disappointments is that my children aren't particularly interested in music. Both tried and both quit playing instruments in 5th grade, and my son enjoys singing but not enough to spend a lot of time practicing and not enough to try out for choirs and such. They do plenty of other things, especially C, so I can't take it too hard. After all - it's their lives. I lived my childhood and it was full of music.
To me music was my identity. I was a pianist, I was a singer, I was a cellist. I wasn't particularly good, or competitive, at any of them, but I really loved to sing. I loved harmonies and melodies. I hated soloists - probably because I never really got any big solos - but mostly I just loved the act of singing. And first cello? HA!
This week there were several articles about a teacher who leads the marching band. He is currently suspended with pay, but the public isn't exactly sure why. (It is a personnel matter, I understand this). The debate seems to come around the competition aspect of his job and how he "motivates" students. He's known for leading the marching band to success. Whatever he did (or didn't do) I think it shows that the system is working: a teacher is being reviewed for alleged misconduct. We hear time and time again about complaints against teachers fall on deaf ears, not only in this district, but around the country. I have so many teachers whom I respect and love, but there are plenty of examples of teachers who have behaved badly and because of tenure, or culture, no one bothers or dares to take up the arguments that may lead to a punishment: anything from a formal reprimand to a punishment of either dismissal or jail time. In fact in all the years I've followed local schools and blogged about them, I cannot think of a single incident of a Bridgewater teacher being fired with cause for cause. And the only two incidents I can recall locally in recent years where teachers have been fired had to do with either sexual misconduct or a DUI with severe injuries. So while I don't know the facts of this case, I think it is a good sign that the district is taking seriously an allegation against a publicly "important" teacher who brings wins to the schools.
This brings me back to my original thought. Music as competition: which it often is, of course. Who is first chair violin? Who gets to be Sandy in Grease, or Jesus in Godspell, or who gets to big solo? Which band is the best? Who gets a Grammy???
In a perfect world, music shouldn't be about competing. It should be enjoyment. Call me an idealist! I think it should bring people together... just like schools. All too often music is like a sport, not like an art. Art for art's sake.
At my high school, this was the big holiday solo. People started vying Sophomore year to get it their senior year. For the rest of my life I'll think of it not as a Christmas carol but as a reward to the best singer. And I bet lots of people who sang with EFA Concert Choir feel the same way.