19 ½ years of the store was preceded by several years teaching in and around the place, and the school Layne now attends was one of those places I worked in, 25 years ago when it began with 80 kids and 4 transportable classrooms. The school this year celebrated its 25th Anniversary.
21 years ago I was the guest judge for the inaugural Battle of the Bands as part of the second ever Eisteddfod in a country town which now boasts entries from all over the State and an ever evolving huge programme and ever growing entry count. Just this past week I met someone from back then who was heavily involved with the creation of that Eisteddfod and continues to be involved today. At the time, she was the High School music head at another school I did work for, this one a public country school. She detailed to me the remarkable careers in music that some of their old scholars had gone on to, both locally and around the world. I must admit to not being great with keeping tabs on such things, but it struck me as interesting how very aggressively one school may market the exploits of an old scholar compared to other schools. And what achievements or roles some institutions seem to think are worthy of recognition while others are not.
Students who’ve graduated schools I’ve been involved with have gone on to forge myriad careers involving music, either very directly or closely associated with it. I say schools I’ve been involved with not to claim some form of credit, I am just more aware of the graduates of those schools than others. And I’m sure there are kids at other schools that didn’t study music who have similar careers. But there’s one constant amongst those schools with remarkable strike rate in student’s post-graduate continued pursuit of music, professional or otherwise. That constant is not access to cutting edge equipment or the best of the best instruments, it’s not access to the finest tutors money can buy, nor is it a militant approach to rehearsal with winning band competitions the only measure of success. The constant in these institutions is inspirational staff. Classroom music teachers who, via their own inspirational connections to students and grit in the face of the changing tides of what is fashionable for bean counters or academically focused administrations, have a community develop within the wider school community that is unique. This collective feeds itself on creativity and inspiration and builds familial resilience, with the music teacher the catalyst that not only pulls the forces together, but keeps them there. When I think about whether I could manage such a thing or not, it’s not unlike considering catching lighting in a bottle. Actually, more accurately, catching lightning a bottle whist refraining from smacking some smart ass Year 8 in to next week, all the while inhaling a room full of teenage BO.
A graduate of one such program who just gained entry to the Conservatorium next year to undertake a Bachelor degree asked me two weeks ago the broad question of how to make money playing music, like I know! He’d accepted the reality he was unlikely to be traveling the world a very well compensated concert pianist, the competition is as intense. He passed Step 1 of a possible future career in the industry of music. Be realistic, accept what is unlikely, and pursue what is likely. Who knows what can happen in the meantime, but if he considers music the business that it is, remembering he wants a career out of it, whatever form that may take, then he can see what he can offer the business. The business doesn’t owe him anything.
The same graduate asked me if I think Layne has what it takes to make it. We who have been around a while know the answer to that. But it did plunge me deeper in to the realisation that, as a parent, I have to do what my parents did, and tell my children. “you need to have something to fall back on”. For all we can learn from the internet these days, kids are still coming out of school unaware of what they’re getting in to. It’s the job of those great teachers to guide these kids and build their skill and confidence, it’s the rest of the world’s job to try and knock it out of them! I have confidence that plenty of them will continue to be victorious against the oppressor that is the real world, and they’ll invent new resources and sources of revenue for musicians that will benefit their generations and beyond. The commercial music industry is about as broken as it could have been, so there is an inevitability of it being broken down and rebuilt again.
But I digress. Do you remember last Christmas Eve the lady of faith I spoke of? She who recounted her tumultuous life story to me in the store one day? If you recall, she had returned to see me and wish our family a Merry Christmas and her blessings and informed me of the terminal illness she had been diagnosed with. She died this year, and though I barely knew her, I’m sure her remarkable story and attitude will be with me always. She was a woman of strong faith, very strong, but did not begrudge me, nor anyone else, for not sharing her faith. Sometimes those who study the oldest of books still have a thing or two to teach those of us who don’t read. There was no real reason for us to cross paths in life aside from her requiring a small piece of music gear, certainly no apparent reason for us to interact in the way we did. But she told me her story, someone I share so very little in common with, and I listened.
“If you want to make beautiful music, you must play the black and white notes together”, were words penned by an American musician, who was a Republican, and who would almost certainly have been convicted by the US Senate and impeached, had he not resigned from office first.
He had all that going against him, but his double entendre can’t be argued. Consider, as unlikely as it is for Donald Trump to deliver something so eloquent today, if he did, would any of his detractors listen? The modern media landscape and social media has never had more reach, more people engaged, yet arguably the partisanship has never been stronger, the ideals never further apart, and commutuality never further over the horizon. Is it Governments who benefit when their people are divided, or the businesses with turnover larger than many countries who benefit more? Imagine how boring social media would be if it was a great big love-in. How hard it would be for Fox and CNN to keep viewers coming back if there were nothing but feel good stories to report. How difficult it would be for the “for profit” Change.org to make money if no one was pissed off enough to make an online petition about it?
It’s Christmas. Be nice to each other. Listen to each other. Respect each other. Learn from each other. For Christ’s sake…..it is Christmas, after all.
Love to you all, see you in 2020 for Year 20.
- ESP BULK Buy Specialist
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A poignant reminder of the passing of time. Congratulations for being in business for 20 plus years and for the support and advice you have given to beginners and pros. May 2020 be your best year ever....l do miss the days of daily checking in to this forum. Cheers