Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Got Talent?

What a thrill it is to read good news in the paper these days.

I loved Blair Ames' article in the Sun about "We Here", the graduation anthem created by Long Reach High School students. After you read the article, you can listen to the song itself on YouTube. Whether or not this is the style of music you like best, you've got to admit: these kids have talent.

Talent. What does that mean, anyway? Is talent some magic fairy dust sprinkled on a chosen few at birth? Or is it like the 'talents' in Matthew 25:14-30--worth nothing unless you work to do something with it, worth less than nothing if it lies buried.

Consider this: when kids read well, or do math well we often credit excellent instructors, creative curriculum and teaching methods, but when they do music well we often say, "oh, they're so talented!" as though their knowledge, skills, and mastery came from nowhere. Poof! Like a rabbit out of a hat.

Yes, these students are talented, but they wouldn't be able to do what they love most without educational support. The kids involved with "We Here" didn't come out of nowhere. All were current/former students in hcpss music courses and ensembles. I got in touch with teacher Chris Fyhr to confirm this.

"D'Ante Colbert, Nabil Ince, Nate Lobdell, and Ramsey Carroll are all alumni of my Music Tech program. Nate Lobdell had also previously taken my guitar class. Jocelyn Peña sang with the LRHS Madrigals her junior year. The specifics have escaped me by now, but all of these students did mention that they had previously participated in instrumental music at the elementary and middle school level."

At a time when cuts are being made to music programs in our own school system and elsewhere, I wonder if people just don't make the connection: this is what happens when you have an excellent music program at all levels. It bears fruit in many wonderful ways.

"Talent" isn't enough. You start with talent. Then, you need:

  • Opportunity
  • Encouragement
  • Instruction
  • Knowledge
  • Support
  • Challenge
  • Mentors

What comes through this process? Self-motivated students who:

  • identify and achieve goals
  • create and perform individually and with others
  • plan
  • persevere
  • develop a healthy capacity for enjoyment

Wow. It sounds like these are qualities we hope to instill as we educate students to be "college and career ready."

Vocal/General music, Music Technology class, Guitar class, Instrumental and Choral ensembles were the places where these students brought their talent. They invested themselves, and the Howard County Music program invested in them.

It's amazing. It's awe-inspiring. But it's not magic.

It's education.



This post is dedicated to Rob White, Howard County Instructional Facilitator for Music, who is retiring this Spring after thirty-six years of service to our students, teachers, and families. You might want to send him a note of thanks: Rob_White@hcpss.org. --jam








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