Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Music for a Busy Night

Since the weekend, normal life has been subsumed by a barrage of work that has redirected the usual habits of our little family. My son, a sixth grader, has to create quite a lot of “product,” shall we say, in the next two and a half weeks. A sampling includes five illustrated poems (he’s written three so far and they’re not bad!), a report about an inventor, and a patented, budgeted invention. Needless to say, helping him to understand the amount of time that might be involved, and to learn to manage all the activities that go into completing his work, while myself remaining in a “hands off” position and finding a way to make my daughter feel included and also parented, is quite an experience.

It’s going to be a long two and a half weeks.

I joked with my kids that the folks who come up with these projects for a group of children who are entirely dependent on someone else to provide the necessary access to resources to finish them, clearly believe parents like me sit around contemplating our navels all day. The children were given two--not four, not six, two -- weeks to accomplish all the objectives and meet the stated expectations laid out in all the assignments. Imagine how amazing the experience could have been had the children been given a slightly more extended deadline that would have maintained the expectations AND allowed for some real wonder and creativity? Does that sound familiar? This is a great example of how our standard, patented educational system prepares kids to grow up to become little automatons destined for mediocrity in the increasingly gluttonous corporate sector.

Now, I realize I don’t work hard enough. I spend a good part of every day mired in various inefficiencies, many of which I created myself but a great number of which I have also managed to eliminate. I don’t use all the brain I’ve got, and I make some pretty dumb excuses for not doing the things I like or want. Nonetheless, a good deal of my time, your time, everyone’s time is wasted due to external influences, decisions by other people who as a result hold a lot of sway over our day, regardless of whether they are remotely qualified to do so.

That is SUCH a drag, but, that is the world in which we and our children live.

It makes me sad to think that we live in a country that has proven itself so incapable of supporting creativity, independent thinking, entrepreneurialism. Those teachers at my son’s school think they are teaching it, but what they are really doing is repeating the pattern. Rather than taking the long view and taking advantage of the dozens of resources available in Northeast Ohio to teach kids all about small enterprise, they are cramming 10 pounds of homework shit in a five pound bag. What will those kids remember about being their own bosses? The paperwork.

That’s the wrong message. Who wants that? Who wants to take responsibility entirely for their own work, wealth creation, health care, life? The people who don’t want to march to the beat of someone else’s drum, that’s who. And that’s what the musicians and songwriters I’ve met are doing.

Most of us can’t even imagine that level of personal responsibility. I have watched and learned from the people I work for, who have sustained over 25 years a small family enterprise in an industry that has done nothing if not taken a beating. But I know that one of the things I love and admire about them and about musicians is that they are all basically putting bread on the table doing what they love. Making that easier for the people who make the music I love is what I think I will eventually do best.

In the meantime, it’s another trip to the library, and multi-task parenting with one kid in the tub while the other one uses my laptop to type up his very clever poems. Hopefully all of us will come out of the experience in one piece, and my kid with a sense of pride, an idea of self, a cool invention, a line or two that puts Ogden Nash to shame, and more than a couple of good memories. One thing’s for sure, we have plenty of good music to enjoy while we work.

One day soon you’ll be able to stream tunes like this from this web site…or something. My sights are set on Spring Break, when the kids will enjoy a slightly slower pace, to make some changes to this blog. In the meantime I’ll just check in now and then. For now, check out this tune which suits a busy evening just perfectly.

[thirty minute pause]

Ok. Sorry. The deal is, I sat at my computer for nearly 30 minutes waiting for MSN to respond and move things along. I don't know what's wrong, and I can barely keep my eyes open so I'm not going to figure it out. I would, however, love for you to check out the Alison Krauss + Union Station version of "Cluck Old Hen." Hell, I could learn to play it faster than I can provide you with a clip.

Have a good night....

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