Saturday, March 3, 2007

A blast from the past

Someone asked me why I have such a strong interest in social justice issues, and I remembered my high school music teacher. I remember him having a huge influence on all of us "band kids." He made being involved in the music program cool. At other schools, I have heard that the kids in band are called "geeks" or made fun of. Not my high school. We explored all kinds of music, from blues to country. We played Janet Jackson songs in the marching band. We played Led Zepplin in the jazz band. He encouraged us to explore music, and to learn about not just what was played on the local top 40 station, but to open our minds to other genres. I loved this. As a result of meeting Mr. S, I am a huge music fan, and have seen musicians of all types perform.

Mr. S also was very fair. He made sure that everyone could participate in the music program. He found a way to get all of us instruments, even if our parents couldn't afford it. We raised money by selling candy bars. That taught us how to work for what we wanted. He also made sure that we respected each other, not only for our similarities, but also for our differences. You weren't allowed to be mean or rude, or cruel to other students during music classes. Those who were had to stand up and justify their actions. No one wanted to be pointed out in class, so we just learned to get along and appreciate each other.

I did an internet search today and found out that his wife died in 1996. That he seems to have stopped teaching sometime in the 1990's. He was music director at the Unitarian Universalist church for 30 years. I discovered that he formed a choral group in 2003. A few minutes ago, I found an address listing for him. I think I am going to write him a letter. It's important to express gratitude to those who were a positive influence on your life.

I am kind of nervous to do it though. However, I think he would be excited to hear about how his fostering of my musical interests have taken me all over the U.S. and to a few other countries. I think he would like to know that I am in law school. (He used to tease me and say that I should be a lawyer, not a chemist, and that's what I ended up doing!)

Results of this correspondence will be posted soon.

If you read this, go ahead and do the same thing - let someone who influenced you know how they did, and the effect on you.

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