|November, 2009 - I spent a few days in San Diego at the annual conference of the American
Music Therapy Association. My first thought was to boycott the event, since they had ignored the
proposals that I sent earlier in the year. "Ignored" is the right word, since they did not respond in
any way - to acknowledge receipt or to inform me that none of my things had been accepted. I
can handle rejection. I hate to be ignored. I decided that to skip the event would only be
punishing myself and not the ignoramuses who ignored me.
Nathaniel Ayers, the fellow who is the subject of the book and movie entitled "The Musician",
played his cello and his trumpet for the gathering. His virtuoso abilities have been somewhat
diminished by his schizophrenia, but he still plays pretty well. The author, Steve Lopez, was also
on hand to discuss the events that led to the book.
There was a LOT of discussion and demonstration about drumming and drum circles. I think
this is good information that all music therapists should have; HOWEVER, the conference had NO
discussion or presentation of information about keyboard skills - an area that music therapists in
training and those in the field MUST develop if they expect to get and keep a job. Yes - one of my
proposals was about keyboard skills, but I say this, because, in fact, NO proposals regarding the
keyboard were accepted - not mine, not anyone's. Do I sound angry? I would describe my feeling
as somewhat frustrated. The people who plan these things seem to be very out of touch with the
needs of persons in the field. I can give you a crash course in drum circles that will sustain you for
most of your career. There are no crash courses in keyboard. It is a skill that you develop very
slowly, and any additional information that you can acquire in any form helps in the development.
We got to hear Willie Nelson perform on November 28. He is quite remarkable for his age. He
was on stage for 90 minutes with no intermission. He did all of the vocals and only talked long
enough to introduce the band. He does most of the instrumentals on guitar with occasional
assistance from the harmonica man and from Willie's sister on the piano. In 90 minutes he was
able to sing only a small representation of the many hits that he has recorded.
November, 1979 - We've passed laws to try to improve the quality of the air and water and
countless other things that we take into our bodies, but precious little has been done to improve
the quality of the things we are forced to observe in our everyday walk in life. We have old
buildings rotting away, abandoned cars, rampant billboard ads - the list is endless.
Mrs. Lyndon Johnson tried with limited success to get legislation to fence the junkyards. Some
cities have passed ordinances governing vacant properties and vehicles left behind; however, no
matter how many laws are passed, the victory over eye pollution is ultimately up to each
individual. I remember the slogan that I saw just the other day: "If it is to be, it's up to me".
It was on a billboard.
If you have ever seen a photograph of the monument to our first President, you know that it is a
gleaming tower of stone that can be seen for miles - a fitting tribute to the father of our country.
Closer inspection of the Washington Monument reveals a change in the color of the stone about
one quarter of its height from the ground. It was at this point that the structure sat unfinished for
the many years of the Civil War and for sometime thereafter, waiting patiently for the day that it
could become what it was intended to be.
Whenever I see an unfinished building, a project shelved for lack of funds, a stranger rejected
because of his clothing or looks, or a life interrupted by mistakes and/or circumstances, the
monument is a reminder of the possibilities that may lie ahead - IF we do not treat the present
condition as final.
RHYME FOR OUR TIME:
Here comes Teddy, ready or not -
making his bid for the top spot.
Here comes Jimmy, smiling for the press.
Why is he sweating? It's anybody's guess.
Connally has clout; Brown is very bold.
Ford is now retired. Reagan's just too old.
Everybody's cousin is getting in the game.
One day we'll be led by President What's His Name