Friday, July 29, 2005

High School Music Teacher For Dummies

Chapter One: Don't Give the Scared, New Kid the French Horn.

I was new to a middle school (strike one), a little awkward (strike two) and in band class I wanted to play the trumpet but was assigned the French horn (steeeerike three! You're out!). Of course this ended up being a horrific, life-changing experience for me. There's nothing quite like struggling with scales on the French Horn in front of half the 6th grade.

For some reason I started thinking about this today. In hindsight, my middle school band teacher lacked common sense. You don't give the scared, new kid the French Horn to play in band class. You give him the trumpet so he can get a leg up. But this man, Mr. Walters, who himself probably had a horrible school experience, wanted the brass band to sound good. Of course, even after all his positioning and strategy, it sounded like ass. Probably in no small part to the frustrated boy in puberty blasting away on the French Horn.

My theory is, let people play what they want to play. If the entire band were trumpets, go with it and make it work. Isn't this kind of a maxim for life as well? Doesn't it cause more problems for people when you frustrate them and force them to be something they're not, setting them up for failure? Society is a harsh place, sometimes. Senator Rick Santorum was on the "Daily Show" the other night promoting his new book "It Takes a Family" talking about trying to fit everyone into the same mold. It made me think that it would be hard to be one of those people that doesn't fit in to that mold because of lifestyle or preferences, regulated to play the French horn in the band.

That fateful day when I was assigned, Mr. Walters, unknowingly, sent my life on a irrevocable course. He helped make me into the passive-aggressive, scared of new groups, man that I am today. It's not easy being a 6th grader where all the students run around in some kind of crack-induced haze because their chemicals are out of balance. There's extreme pressure to be a macho, sports-loving, aggressive alpha-male. Call me crazy but the girl next to me who played French Horn went on to be high-school valedictorian.

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