Whether it’s the XBOX or PlayStation, 900 channels on Television, or sitting on their I-pod or I-pad texting, kids are running out of creative ways to spend their time. We know they are not exercising or playing sports because the media let us know that 99.99% of all kids are obese.
(If the media are calling kids obese, where does that place me? I’m working on it.. quiet on the set.)
Regardless of what kids are doing these days one of the things that kids are not doing is signing up to play in a band or join the afterschool band programs.
My son played the drums for 3 years. I guess it wasn’t hip enough as he has dropped the drumsticks for the football helmet and pads.
I chose the flute at Mother Of God grade school as my band instrument. I really wish I had kept playing. I was teased of course because it was the flute and not the drums, guitar, or some other sexy instrument. Never the less I played until I could not take the teasing from my male classmates.
(It wasn’t called bullying then it was called signifying, cracking, poking fun. You just dealt with it.)
My biggest accomplishment in playing the flute was a solo during the Christmas play. I got to play, “What Child Is This.” I thought I was the pied piper jack.
Kids today don’t have that opportunity to select an instrument, as band programs are the first eliminated from the after school activities.
Learning to play an instrument is very hard. But once you play music, especially an original piece, it gives you individuality, pride and confidence. Pieces to the life puzzle that many of our youth are missing today.
Lack of funding is not the only reason that kids are not joining bands. The choice of music by some of the, long in the tooth, band teachers are keeping kids listening to bad music on the radio and their IPODS instead of wanting to create their own.
Life is cyclical. Everything experiences highs and lows. Music is no different. Music has had great times where Mozart, Beethoven, Little Richard, Prince, and Kanye West have all had to inject change to what was reaching the masses.
Band teachers also must step into the new generation and allow the students to learn some hipper music styles in order to keep their creativity fresh. I would love to go to a mainstream school and hear the band play some Jay-Z, B.O.B, Little Brother, Tribe Called Quest, or Eminem. You would at least think they would play something from “The Roots”, the hip-hop group that is a live band.
There is an exception to the rule. Historically Black Colleges and Universities excel in teaching music and music theory. They do have bands that play today’s music. They do have teachers who concentrate on creating musical geniuses. They do focus on recruiting teenagers from high schools that have a strong band and music programs. Many of the graduates and individuals who have attended Historically Black Colleges and Universities are successful music executives and musicians today. Sean”P Diddy” Combs, Erykah Badu, Common, Yolanda Adams and Reuben Studdard just to name a few. Notice that difference in the musical acumen of each of artists. P Diddy is arguably one of the greatest to have ever promoted music. Erykah Badu has been compared to Billy Holiday for her unique voice and her music style. Common is one of the greatest lyricists in Hip Hop. Yolanda Adams is responsible for the re-birth of Gospel Music scene. Finally, Reuben Studdard has one of the greatest singing voices of all time that of which is comparable to Luther Vandross.
Yet if it wasn’t for the ability of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities to open the glass ceiling of musical creativity we may not even have had the opportunity to accept their pool of genius into our lives.
The middle school is the start of introducing the music to the child. High school is supposed to take the baton handed to the child in middle school and prepare the student for a career in music. College is supposed to take the mid level musician and make him artists.
Just funding the music programs in schools is not enough. We must also continue to search for those individuals who will open our children up enough that they can access their gifts and help them spread the music across the globe.