Today's Haiku

With all the stuff floating around about me getting fired, I thought of this.

Listening to the
rumors float like falling leaves;
do I really care?


Afternoon Haiku

Dogs in the backyard.
I watch them happily play
while I scoop their poo.


If only....

So I got a phone call today telling me that my services were no longer needed at the school at which I was teaching percussion. I had been wondering for a while if it was going to happen or not, as *things* just seemed different. No one thing was necessarily off or blatantly wrong, but there had been an odd "vibe", if you will. I'd noticed it for the entire marching season too. I even spoke to my wife about it several times. I have no idea if what I'm about to write about is why the director decided to move on, nor does it really matter. The decision has been made, and I'm fine with that.

It seems to me that the more into this Buddhism thing I get, the less important other things seem. Not because Zen is "taking over my life" either. It's because other *things* really DON'T matter. The marching band had a bad performance at one contest, and all the entire staff was talking about was how "this kid screwed everyone up" and "these kids can't focus" and on and on and on. I was really offended by it all. I didn't say anything there, but I think others were aware by my absence from the conversations. I couldn't help but think "so what", but the others couldn't stop going on about how "horrible that performance was". That night, at a second contest, we went on to sweep every caption award. Of course everyone was ecstatic. I was happy for the kids, especially since it was their first percussion award in several years, but I was still relatively unaffected by it myself. It was just a "thing".

Everyone seems so attached to winning. I teach because I love to see the progress that kids make over time; to see them grow and foster a love of playing music. I don't teach to win a stupid contest or an award. Sure, it's nice to get recognized for a show that was performed well, but when one is performed poorly, it's really not the end of the world. I've told my students for years that you can't worry about a mistake when performing or any other time. Once it's made, you can't take it back. Sure, we can and should learn from our mistakes, but in the competitive world, especially during a show, there is absolutely nothing that can be done about them, and they should be forgotten as soon as they're made. Worrying about something that is now in the past does nothing to change the fact that it happened. Let it go. Move on. Live in the NOW.

There are many arguments for and against music competitions. I happen to enjoy the teamwork that competing builds. It can be hard not to fall into the "win win win" trap, especially when there are rivalries, intense competition, etc. As I said, it's nice to be recognized as well. All of these competitions are score based, and the scores are based on how *you* perform at that time. They're aren't supposed to be how you performed in comparison to group A or B or C. It ends up looking that way, as each group is given a score and a placing, but according to the score sheets, it's how your group does at that particular time. Having said that, how can anyone be upset at "losing". If you lost, it means that you didn't perform as well as someone else. Big deal. Even better yet...it means another group performed well, and good for the other group! Their performance was awesome. How can we be upset that so and so "beat" us.

This past year I've tried to look at the improvement that individuals have made - that the group has made. I've been working with 8th through 11th grade students, and the advancement has been spectacular. I couldn't be more proud of the students. They are understanding their role in an ensemble better; how even the smallest instrument, dynamic change, or part is extremely important; how being a part of a group can be very rewarding personally; and, most importantly, they are beginning to realize that this very moment is all there is.

I sincerely loved working with the students at this school. I have a great deal of affection for many of them, and will miss them sorely. I very much appreciate the parents of these kids, as they have always supported me and been there for me and their children. Without their help and support, many of the things would never have gotten done. I truly hope that the directors find what they are searching for, which brings me to my final thought (for now).

IF ONLY....If only I had more money....If only my lawn were as green as my neighbors...If only I had a better car....If only I had less work to do....If only we had a better percussion instructor....If only...If only...If only... "If only" is a futile pursuit. Since I always like to end with a quote, here is one from one of my many teachers, the venerable Brad Warner: "In the truest sense none of your desires, no matter what they are, can ever be fulfilled because nothing will ever be *exactly* the way you imagine it to be. The trick here is to give up imagining how things are gonna be. Or, at the very least, to give up believing that the way you imagine things are going to be has anything to do with the way they really will be. It seems to me it's only when you give up wrong notions of what will or won't make you happy that you can really experience each moment as it is."..."All this *if only* gives everyone the perfect excuse to mope around and miss out on all the real joy your life is offering you right this minute."