Saturday, January 2, 2010

Getting All the Facts

Here at the monastery, we have lots of music. It's a part of who we are. Music plays a major role in our prayer, liturgies, celebrations, and even our recreation.

I'm reminded of my first ever Christmas band concert when I was in 7th grade. Before I continue the story, let me first say that I really thought I was being considerate and doing my parents a favor. For you see, they had come to hear my twin brother and me play. Even though they heard us practice many hours at home, I felt bad that here they were, sitting in the audience, listening to the band as a whole. How were they supposed to know which sound was mine? It seemed tragic to me at the time, so I came up with a plan. I decided that when the band director cut us off at the end of the song, I was going to keep playing. That way my parents, who were sitting in the audience, wouldn't be disappointed. I was doing them a favor. By holding my note a little longer, my parents would get what they came for - they would hear me play.

Fortunately for me, we were all beginning band members, only a few months into playing, so I wasn't the only one who missed the cut-off. Several other band members, who I'm sure were also being considerate and thinking of their families in the audience, also held on longer to the last note, so the band director cut us off several times.

Now that I teach music, I experience the same situation with my 4th grade recorder students. When the song is finished, there are some who like to hang on. I don't blame them. If you're playing with ~20 others, it's tempting to hold on so you can hear yourself. I tell them, "Good musicians know when to stop," or "We're a team. We play together and end together." But like my band director so many years ago, I also cut off my students several times at the end of a song.

It is interesting when we look at our behaviors. The person who is not behaving as we think he or she should may be perfectly justified in his/her own rationale. For example, holding the note longer at the end of the song was wrong. My band director could have gotten upset at me. However, at the time, I didn't realize I as doing anything wrong. I was playing out of consideration for my parents who were listening.

This goes to show that it's better to ask questions and seek understanding rather than limit the situation with only our perception and uninformed judgments.

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