Well another year is in the books! By the time you are able to read this column Midwest Band has come and gone, the new Bands of America Grand National Marching Band Champion – Broken Arrow High School – will be enjoying their Christmas Break and you are undoubtedly digging to the bottom of all the magazines that you piled in the corner of your office with every intent to read during the Fall… but only now are getting around to reading!
This month, I thought I would pay tribute to the year that was by sharing with you my gift list that I have sent to Santa Claus with the hopes that these gifts will help our community in the year ahead. I present to you:
Bob’s Christmas Wish List
This has been a very interesting year. I believe I have been a good boy this year and would like to ask you a favor. Instead of bringing me that new riding lawn mower I have been wanting or that hair club for men subscription which, by the looks of my picture on this page, I could REALLY use, I thought that maybe… just maybe… you could take some of the gifts to my friends for the holidays as a show of appreciation for the good they have done this year or to provide them with things that will help them be more effective in the year to come. I’m really not asking for all that much. Here’s the list:
For the new Democratic Congress – a PEN and COURAGE. A PEN so they may use it to re-write the sections of the No Child Left Behind law that is currently up for reauthorization. COURAGE will allow our members of Congress to keep the promises made over the past year to fix the flaws in the law that have hurt many of our music and arts programs due to the narrowing of the curriculum.
For President Bush – A SENSE OF HUMOR. With all the changes in Washington and the new Congress he is going to need one.
To President Bill Clinton – A set of VAN DOREEN REEDS. Since we have not heard too much about the former president and his saxophone… maybe some new reeds will bring him, and his horn, back to support the cause he cares so passionately about (music) while he tries to change the world.
For the American Diploma Project – A NEW DICTIONARY. Seems the dictionary they currently use was mis-printed. These folks need a dictionary that lists the ARTS by themselves without the word “language” preceding it. This is so they may come to know that the ARTS really are their own subject worthy of some space in the new model of high school reform these folks are aggressively promoting, with some success, to our state leaders.
For outgoing Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee – A new Tobias “Traveler” BASS GUITAR. Yes Santa… I know they do not make these… but if you could have one custom designed so that the soon-to-be former Governor of Arkansas and unabashed advocate for music and arts education programs will have something to keep him company on his travels to promote his new book (From Hope to Higher Ground due in book stores January 4, 2007) and those frequent trips between Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina for whatever business he may have in those states!
To Governor Schwarzenegger (Ahhhhnold!) – THREE CHEERS … no, make that 500 MILLION CHEERS for his efforts to restore music and arts education to all of California public schools and a NEW PHONE BOOK. The music and arts education community will be indebted to him for his bold leadership in restoring music and arts education programs in across the state. The phone book has the numbers for the other 49 Governors so he may give them a call to tell them how to reinvest in arts education in those states as well!
To all the music educators in California – A MAP. This MAP details the best way to use your new found funding to restore the most important part of your system that has been lost to neglect, your elementary instrumental and general music programs. Resist the temptation to only strengthen what exists and embrace the chance to invest in early music engagement for students. You will never have greater music participation in the secondary grades if nothing is done to increase the number of students that develop music literacy in the elementary grades. Restoring elementary general and instrumental music programs will provide long-lasting life benefits to millions of students for years to come.
To all the music educators in Texas – A CHAIN OF MUSIC STORES. Many of our brethren in Texas have had to put up with a lot of craziness following the demise of Brook Mays… but there are other worthy music products retailers in the state who will work hard to earn your trust and your business! (As I side note… I will see you at TMEA!)
To School Board members and Superintendents across the nation – A 9 PERIOD DAY! Have you been noticing how many of school districts with major commitments to music and the arts have reverted to a 9 period day in order to allow students ample opportunity to be involved in arts offerings? Seems like a great trend to me!
To the Stanford, University of Wisconsin and Florida A&M Marching bands – A CLUE! Incidents including the trashing of the band’s practice facility (Stanford), hazing of incoming freshmen (Wisconsin), and hazing and theft of hotel property (Florida A&M) are giving the music education field in general and the marching band community in particular a bad name. You would think these programs were made up exclusively of drummers! (just kidding… after all I am a drummer). This CLUE is to help these programs find some common sense… or at least some sensitivity training! I can just see the new DVD series Bands Gone Wild.
On a serious note…
To Maynard Ferguson, Mike Kovins and Bill Shultz – ever lasting peace. After all these three GIANTS of industry and performance gave to the field of music education they have earned it. Maynard LOVED to perform and teach. He was passionate for his craft and shared that passion with others, particularly students. Mike, Korg’s president, was relentless in his advocacy regarding the critical role of technology in music education and the battles he fought to get people to take this issue seriously. Bill, because of his life’s work as a music educator followed by his deep passion and commitment to using the company he saved, Fender, as a vehicle to give back. These men will be greatly missed
To each and every one of our music educators, who fight the good fight every day to bring music to the youth of our nation, and who, on a monthly basis put up with the ramblings of this drummer turned music education activist…. MY DEEPEST GRATITUDE for what they do. Please bring them all the joys of the season and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. They all work hard in a labor of love that helps our young people in immeasurable ways.
Happy Holidays Everyone!