Today’s quote comes from Bill Strickland, Founder of the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild and MCG Jazz. We’ve featured Bill in a previous video post here entitled The Arts: Giving Hope to the Hopeless.
“The sand in the hourglass flows only one way. Don’t waste precious time chasing someone else’s definition of success. Live your life with purpose now. Look for the things that inspire you, trouble you, make you feel most alive, and trust in those things to shape your future. They will give you all your heart could ever wish for.”
— Bill Strickland
As we’ve mentioned here previously, music and sports are often seen as opposing forces in the world of education, as budget cuts force administrators to choose where dollars should be allocated. Here’s someone who has seen the benefits of both activities, musician and former New York Yankees Centerfielder Bernie Williams.
“Tough question,” responded Williams. “Baseball was my job and a lot of fun, but music was always in my life. And you know what? The older I got, the more I realized I wanted to be a musician when I grew up. .. . I think I have to give the edge to music a little.”
Here’s Bernie’s poignant rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”
There is a serendipitous quality to the internet and social media. We make connections we wouldn’t have imagined otherwise. With that thought in mind, here’s a quote that I came across on the Facebook site of Pam Asberry, a single parent/musician/piano teacher/writer who happened to “Like” the Facebook site for my book Everything We Needed to Know About Business, We Learned Playing Music. With the inherent challenges that music educators face these days, I thought this quote might strike a “chord” with many of our readers:
“For a long time it seemed to me that life was about to begin – real life – but there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles WERE my life. This perspective has helped me to see there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.
So treasure every moment you have and remember that time waits for no one.”
- Father Alfred D. Souza, Writer, Philosopher
It’s interesting that technology is allowing more and more people access to musicianship than ever before, a topic we’ve address here before in a previous video post. Some might not consider technology-enabled musicians true musicians in the purest sense, but that’s not the point. By lowering the bar of entry with technology, we enable more people to experience the joy of creating music. By increasing that pool of potential musicians, everybody wins. Some will pursue traditional instruments on a more serious level, and some will stick to their musical “toys,” but all will develop an appreciation and love for the possibilities that music has for enhancing our lives.
Here’s a musical instrument designed by a Scottish company to make music accessible to special education students called the “Skoog.”
I sometimes wonder why there aren’t more testimonials from leaders from a variety of professions who were influenced by music education. Why don’t they speak out more often and more publicly regarding the benefits of music education. I certainly didn’t have any trouble finding plenty of successful business leaders willing to tell me their stories when I wrote my book. One possible answer is that they don’t have a proper, organized forum.
This Canadian website, The Coalition for Music Education, has a Gallery of Champions of musicians and professionals influenced by music education. Not a bad idea.
Link to the Gallery of Champions website
(scroll down to play the audio testimonials)
“Every step we take and every sound we make has a rhythm. Music therefore, is inherently human – and lack of commitment to music education is inhumane.”
- Craig M. Cortello
I sometimes get frustrated trying to assist my son with his math homework. He does well in school, but other subjects come easier to him than math. I on the other hand, had an easy time with math but had to work harder at other subjects.
Yet I’m aware that patience is one of the key characteristics of effective teaching. When I’m helping him with math homework, I try to remember what Business guru/speaker/author Brian Tracy says: “Everyone has the capacity to operate at genius levels at something.” It’s important to remember that we’re all wired differently and we’re just trying to use our strengths to help others.
I try to think of something that I’m not good at, and try to think about how frustrated someone might get trying to teach me. I wonder how Dale Earnhardt, Jr. would feel trying to teach me how to rebuild a carburetor or how Paula Abdul might feel showing me a few dance moves.
In an effort illustrate how ridiculous we look to others when you get short-tempered, lose our patience, and speak in a condescending tone, here’s an example that concept exaggerated. It’s a skit from SNL with Jimmy Fallon portraying the geeky company computer guy, Nick Burns:
Music Teacher Advice from a Student: Get in the Trenches
NOCCA Applies Artistic Lessons to Mainstream Education: Building Education from a Blank Canvas
The Role of Education and of Music Ed.: Life Skills vs. Work Skills
Because they are often competing for funding dollars in education, music and sports are often seen as being at odds with each other, but I take a different view on the subject. I’ve had the time of my life teaching my young son to play sports, and many of the lessons from both sports and music are transcendant and applicable beyond those experiences. The Green Bay Packers players who were coached by Vince Lombardi in the 60′s unequivocally state that they learned more lessons about life than about football from their iconic coach.
Coming back from Super Bowl XLV in Dallas and having the experience to be closer to the winning team than most fans, I came away with a few thoughts on the parallels between coaching and teaching. My brother-in-law is James Campen, the Offensive Line coach for the Green Bay Packers, and he reached the pinnacle of his profession this season after years of hard work as an NFL player and coach. He endured the long hours, the professional uncertainty, and the public scrutiny, and he came out on top. I love him and couldn’t be prouder of him, and sharing that experience with my family was one of the greatest memories of my life (and he gave his nephew – my 13 year-old son Michael, a pass to get on the field with his cousins to celebrate the Lombardi trophy presentation!).
In a radio interview a few days after the victory, he spoke of the joy of seeing the players that he had coached celebrate in victory:
“When the confetti comes down at the stadium and you get to watch the players you’ve coached and you see the elation on their face and the tears coming down their face, it hits you at that point to say: ‘You know what – We did something special here’…It’s a great feeling to coach players with that type of emotion and drive. They’re very deserving.”
The greatest coaches essentially consider themselves teachers. James coached high school football before jumping to the NFL, an experience that he considers an asset, because coaching at that level really hones your skills as a teacher.
If you’re a teacher and a music teacher specifically, I’m sure that you can relate to James’ emotions. It is the nature of Offensive Linemen in football and therefore the Offensive Line coach that the only time you’re recognized is when things are going poorly. When you’re doing your job well, the “skilled players” such as wide receivers, quarterbacks and running backs are getting all of the accolades.
Similarly, for every music performer who stands on stage and receives the adulation of an audience, there’s a teacher or several teachers who inspired them, motivated them, criticized them when necessary (a pat on the shoulder or kick in the pants as needed), helped them believe in themselves, pushed them to go further than they’d imagined they ever could, and stood in the wings cheering them on as they succeeded.
It is also likely that you rarely receive great accolades for your hard work. Your reward is the satisfaction that you have changed lives and helped others realize their full potential.
As I state in this forum repeatedly, your efforts impact the lives of your students in the band room and beyond whether their ultimate vocation is music or otherwise, as my music teachers have impacted me.
Congratulations – you are champions! And so are the Packers!