|May, 2008 - Always a relief to get the semester over at the university. It is tough to give failing
grades to students who work hard, but if they don't measure up, you are not doing them a favor
to move them closer to a career for which they are not suited or not qualified or both.
May brings the Bell Band Tour (www.bellband.org) - three days and two nights on the road
with twenty plus adults with developmental disabilities. The music we make is not "wow" but
okay, and our audiences appreciate seeing persons with these limitations do something that
is orderly and useful. First Baptist Church in Bryan provided a great meal and a great
audience. Several families brought their children with special needs. One young man refused
to climb the stairs or ride the elevator to our second floor performance site. I brought one of
the bells to him and let him hear it and ring it - told him there were more of these upstairs
waiting to play music for him. I went back to the performance area, and in a few minutes he
and his parents came in. That little "musical motivation" helped him make a decision to
stretch his limitations. At Marbridge (south of Austin) - a residential facility for persons with
developmental disabilities - Robert played his trombone for us. We heard him a few years
ago, and at that time he could play only one note. He has expanded his range and can now
play several notes in the key of Bb. The hotel in Austin where we were not satisfied the last
time gave us good service. I was relieved. A few years ago we requested and received a
$900 refund for service that was very poor.
The Reverend Doctor Bill Crouch passed away just before the tour, and I did not get to attend
the service, which was a very big event by local standards. He was a quiet man who lived the
faith that he preached and did many good things for many people. I went to school with his
brother, Bob, in the fifties. We were both members of the SMU Mustang Band.
The night we returned from tour the Woodrow Wilson All Star Choir performed my new piece
entitled "Life Is What You Make It" with accompaniment provided by piano and Orff
instruments. According to audience response it was the best piece of the evening. The
children really did a fine job. Director Cecile Johnson has been interested in my work for
several years now, and I really admire what she does with the choir.
May, 1980 - I was evidently excited about the candidacy of John Anderson, who made an
effort to get the Republican nomination. He made a good showing early on but faded as the
primaries continued. He eventually became an independent - getting 7% of the vote, which
was the best showing for a third party candidate since George Wallace (12%) in 1968. My
comments were that it is good to see someone like this who makes the millionaire front
runners sweat. By the time I entered these comments here I had forgotten just who he was
and had to ask my friend GOOGLE.
The hometown junior high band (we had only one at the time) won a first division in
sight-reading; and in case you don't know what that means, I'm here to reassure you that it is a
major accomplishment (unless, of course, they won by reading a piece in a minor key).
Aside from the obvious victory and satisfaction that come from a winning band, there are
other advantages to the young people involved. The need for aesthetic expression and
experiences is basic to all mankind, and in the band young people receive the two best hopes
for personal growth and happiness - positive interpersonal relationships and a love for
musical knowledge. With music young people learn to communicate emotions that can be
stated no other way, and it is the non-verbal quality of music that provides it with potency and
The marvels of our computerized society are not to be disregarded, but when I see someone
fall in love with a television set or with one of the many electronic games, I shudder at the
possibilities of a proliferation of this sort of thinking. Man is so much better off to learn to be
self-reliant, instead of depending upon assistance from transistors. A giant computer could
ultimately make better music than a junior high band, but it would be music devoid of feeling,
personality, mutual love, and the mountains of self-esteem which accompany the band's
RHYME FOR OUR TIME:
You never find your size at the year-end clearance sale.
If you find a bargain in food, it's probably going stale.
If they're "going out of business", they've probably gone before;
some places have a "SALE" sign welded to the door.
Our neighbors had a sale just the other day;
it was "going out of business", a parting of the way.
She got the house, and he got the car.
She got the kids, and he got the bar.
The postman got instructions on where to send his mail.
We got a desk and a chair that's fair
next door at their divorce sale.