To the two high school students who started teaching Diana and Calypso trumpet and violin respectively, thank you for being so enthusiastic and positive. Thank you for being an example of joy. Thank you for carving time out of your busy teenage lives between school and socializing to give something to some younger kids. To the young lady who taught violin, thank you especially for being so incredibly creative and effective at communicating technique in a way that made sense to a 7 year old. Although you've each graduated long ago and moved on I hope you are still enjoying music.
To the music teacher who ran preschool classes for Isaac and who later taught Calypso piano, thank you for your unending patience with wiggly little boys who picked their noses and wanted to turn the rhythm sticks and blocks into swords and cars. Thank you for making them giggle and look forward to the class. Thank you for setting expectations for Calypso and requiring follow through but for being positive in the way you did that. Thank you also for later on when this old mama wanted to learn guitar and you were equally patient and encouraging with someone who felt incredibly self-conscious about her faltering efforts.
To the trumpet teacher with a PhD who gave an 8th grader the chance to play a solo in a recital with college students, thank you for giving her such a sweet opportunity. Thank you for patiently helping her work through the aggravation of playing with brand new braces when her mouth was killing her.
To the oboe/clarinet teacher whose bubbly personality and easy giggles got Calypso laughing with her when the reeds squeaked and squawked, thank you for using humor to diffuse tension. Thank you for giving her useful feedback for an instrument her school band director couldn't help her on very much.
To the band director in the Middle School, thank you for doing a thankless job. I tend to think your job must be a bit like herding cats when you try to get everyone to play together. I suspect it must at least sound like that for the first half of the year when they try to play together. That that a bunch of 10 year olds can all produce a few discernible tunes including harmonies by the end of the year is an impressive a feat as anything a professional orchestra can produce. Kudos to you for getting them there.
To my stepmother, thank you for paying for all sorts of lessons over the years because you know a single income family doesn't always have a lot of extra money laying around and you wanted your grandchildren to have the freedom to explore and develop different skills. Thank you for your generosity and for giving them opportunities neither you nor I had. Thank you for giving that gift without conditions on what sorts of lessons it had to be spent on. It just happened that more often than not the kids chose music.
To my mom, thank you for making a 2 and a half hour round trip just to come to concerts on a week night and be back home for work the next day. Thank you for your enthusiasm and for gladly making that sacrifice to celebrate their efforts and enjoy the fruits of those efforts.
To the band directors and assistants in the Junior High and High School, you all are a musically proficient bunch who bring ensembles together to give some really impressive concerts and marching band shows but that's where my praise ends. You're a surly bunch of elitists who play favorites in such egregious ways it's disheartening to great numbers of your students. It's pretty sad commentary when your teenage students describe their frustration by saying, "I'm tired of a bunch of 40-somethings throwing temper tantrums like 3 year olds." Grow the hell up and realize that you need to set a decent example. Even the students who don't intend to pursue music as a career deserve your best effort. This is an elective activity. Those kids wouldn't be there if they didn't have some sort of love for music. Drive enough of them away and you'll loose a job, the department will be eliminated, and no one will have the opportunity except those rich enough to do everything privately....or maybe that's your goal?
To the private voice teacher who has been working with Calypso for the last year, thank you for sharing your tremendous technical expertise with us. You have experiences and skills we have not encountered before. Thank you also for being flexible about scheduling and location. However, your epic freakout on my daughter last week was completely out of line. For all your ranting about professionalism and respect you abandoned both of those principles when her back was literally against the wall while you shouted right in her face. And how dare you put your hands on my child in anger! Your words were harsh, belittling, and served no purpose other than to make her feel small so you could feel bigger.
To my daughters who trudged joylessly through a concert last night because of the way they've been beaten down lately, reflect on the long line of those who showed you music is a place of refuge and a thing of beauty and gladness. Illegitimi non carborundum.