I recently returned from a trip to Toledo, OH, which is where I grew up. Last Saturday night there was a ceremony to induct people into my high school’s Music Hall of Fame. Yes, we have a Music Hall of Fame.
Back in the day, we had an absolutely awesome marching band and the glee club did top notch musicals along with the orchestra. Being a Catholic school, the uniforms, the instruments and all the accoutrement were supplied through fund raisers managed by the band parents. At least once a year we put on our uniforms without picking up instruments and sold band candy outside local stores, factories, or whatever. The uniforms had an overlay for marching, but could also be worn with white shirt and necktie as a concert band uniform. Large instruments, such as bassoons and sousaphones, were courtesy of the band parents’ efforts.
The music department was so good that when the school got a new principal, he decided that he was going to “put the music department in its place.”
If that place was oblivion, he succeeded 45 years ago.
The banquet hall was packed; I’m guessing there were 500 or so from all over the US. The current school president told the assembled multitude that he was committed to “getting our music department back.”
I hope so. Music is not only an art, but also a powerful tool for brain development.
I’m going to check back and see if it really happens.
Oh my marching band, music days. No, Steve, I wasn’t as altruistic as you.
The fact is as a real young kid they gave me a violin to learn to play, then a
piano, However, when I got to Junior High School, it was the “babes” that compelled me to learned to play the drums both there and through high school. Of course now I look back and I see the music part of life, and the significance and power of music on society and culture.
Nothing is more singular about our and ALL generations than its addiction to MUSIC. Nothing else excites youth as music does. Today it’s available 24 hours a day, everywhere. There is the stereo in the home, in the car; there are concerts; there are music videos, with special channels exclusively devoted to children on the air nonstop; there are the “Walkmans” so that no place—not public transportation, not the library—prevents children or students from “communing” with music–even while studying.
Civilization, or to say the same thing, “education” is the taming or domestication of the soul’s raw reason. Music seems to involve harmony and reason. In its highest and most developed form, music is religious and devotional. Music–as everyone experiences–provides an unquestionable justification and a fulfilling pleasure for the activities it accompanies: The soldier who hears the marching band is enthralled and reassured; the religious person is exalted in prayer by the sound of the organ in church; and the lover is carried away and conscience stilled by the romantic guitar.
I’d be remiss if I did not mention our band leader, Colonel Moore–who was at Bakersfield High School for some 30 years. No one liked him, yet everyone respected him. He was brilliant and very strict. Band was not an elective, but a privilege. And so we practiced on our own time: Music for two hours in the auditorium each day, and marching on the football field for two hours each day. He taught us formation and turning algorithms and geometry–for which we all thought he was B-A-N-A-N-A-S. Band members
had to maintain a B grade average…or we were out. Period! And Colonel Moore had no favorites. He never retired and died peacefully while napping of a real diagnosis known as Broken Heart Syndrome at age 91 just before band practice at the BHS auditorium.