Remembering on Memorial Day

English: WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 7, 2010) Music...My bands used to do our local Memorial Day Parade.  It took us a long time to prepare for it (we started in February), it was always scorching hot, and parents often complained about it.  After being accused of exposing their children to heat stroke for making them wear blue jeans a few years back, I decided that this gig wasn’t really all it was cracked up to be.

As always, when breaking with longstanding tradition in the education community, it is best to simultaneously propose a replacement activity.  Instead, we decided to visit a local nursing home and perform for real veterans.

This will be our third year, and I think it serves our elders well.  They really enjoy seeing the huge group come in and play for them.  Many end up in tears because it brings back memories of their own or their children’s experiences with school music programs.  They insist on shaking my hand, and tearfully thanking me, which always gets me.

It also serves the kids well, to remember these elders, to see how much they enjoy their performance, to understand what it must be like to have to wait for your entertainment to come to you.

On this Memorial Day, I’m thankful for the service of our veterans, and also the elder community who supported those veterans.


The Best Advice

My grandma used to say, “Do your best and that’s all you can do.”  It’s kind of a funny saying, but I repeat it to myself often, in particular because of the last part.  Anyone who loves me and knows me, knows that I am my very own worst critic, and that I’m often hypersensitive to criticism only because whatever you were going to say to me, I’ve already berated myself about inside my head about 57 times.  Sometimes I need to cut myself a break.

There’s a great book called the Inner Game of Tennis by Timothy Gallwey (I actually read the also great book, The Inner Game of Music by Barry Green and Timothy Gallwey, based on the same ideas), and one of the founding principles is that in order to perform well, you need to find a way to shush those inner “you-can’t-do-it” voices, the “judges”, as he calls them.  You have to find a way to take away their power to suck the very lifeblood out of you, because they will if given the chance.

I’m not a perfectionist, but I do have high expectations for myself, and the things I need to do, because often I am the only one to do them.  If I can’t, it won’t get done, which can lead to more problems.  But Grandma was exactly correct – if I’ve done my best (which is almost always the case) that’s all I can do!

After a full school day, starting at 7:30pm, getting out of my last school meeting at 5:00pm, talking to The Man on the brief ride home, having an hour to sit (whew!) and then heading out for another meeting that lasted a solid two hours, talking to The Man again on the brief ride home, and finally able to take my heels off at 9:30pm (after talking to Fantastic Babysitter, settling The Boy, and realizing I hadn’t eaten dinner), I realize I have done the best I can do today, and that’s all I can do.  Working out will have to wait until tomorrow.