Frenemies and the (Wo)Man in the Mirror!

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You are your own worst critic. Well, you and that tone deaf, jerk faced judge that went all crazy on you last month at contest. UGH! 

Alright, so let’s just say, you're “among” your worst critics. "Go easy on yourself,” has long been the mantra long hailed by self-help gurus and greeting card authors alike. 

Sure, our politicians seem to have no problem with self-affirmation and adulation, but for the rest of us, the most damning assessment of who we are comes not from the person facing you, but the one in the mirror.

As it turns out, this state of self-loathing isn’t just depressing for your emotional state, it can take a toll on your body as well.

In a clinical study published in Psychology Today, scientists studied our “negativity bias,” which is the instinct that makes negative events seems more significant than they actually are. In other words, we are hard wired to give more weight to our flaws and failures than to our strengths and successes. 

So why are we so hard on ourselves? Apparently we can blame evolution.

Dr. Richard Davidson, Professor of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison states, “ In order to survive and thrive, our brains are equipped with a mechanism which monitors for mistakes so as to be able to correct them. In order to correct them, we must first notice that a mistake has occurred.” 

It’s not the “noticing” of the mistakes that sends you into a self-shame spiral, but their disproportionate weight that makes us more vulnerable to depression, anxiety, and pre-mature aging (clearly I am dwelling TOO much as I am not aging well!).

This Darwinian behavior is not helpful, in fact it is hurtful, not just for our health but for our job performance. Yep, reflecting on the bad doesn’t lead to better job performance, it makes it worse. In a 2016 study, scientists noted that “positive reflection of ones actions resulted in improved performance whereas negative reflection resulted in negative performance.”

You see where this is going don’t you?

Music teachers are experts at self-denegration to be sure!

We focus on the wrong notes more than the right ones.
We focus on the tardy students more than the punctual ones.
We focus on the disruptive kids & parents more than the compliant ones.
We focus on the weak performances more than the successful ones.


As the year winds down, for the sake of your health, longevity, and sanity, take a moment and focus on what went right this year. Dwell on the objectives you achieved, the impact you had, and the lives you changed for the better. Try to override the cognitive fall back of finding what you have have done wrong this year, and focus on what you did RIGHT!

You may not be your best advocate, but you can’t be your worst enemy either. As you prepare to retreat and relax, give yourself a break and save the frenemy complex for the cranky judges!

Have a WONDERFUL week and summer break! Let me know if I can help in any way.

Yanny vs. Laurel & the Tritone Paradox!



Unless you’ve been hiding under a mound of purchase orders, or aren't paying attention to your social media obsessed students, you are well aware of the Yanni vs. Laurel debate. My family and I listened to the examples and declared our allegiance. I am proudly and loudly #teamyanny! My boys? #Teamlaurel! My wife heard a mixture of both, and my Golden Retriever only seems to hear the word TREAT!

It turns out that the Yanni vs. Laurel controversy is an example of something known as an auditory anomaly. Recent discoveries surrounding not just HOW we hear, but WHAT we hear, have us rethinking how our brains and ears function in conjunction with one another. The most notable and documented of these anomalies is known the Tritone Paradox.

The Tritone Paradox is an auditory illusion that occurs when a pair of tritones are played sequentially with some people hearing the sequence as ascending while others hearing it as descending. You can hear an example here.

Which way did you hear it?

Once thought to be happenstance, music researcher, Diane Duetsch, discovered that how we hear sounds are impacted not just by our genetics but by our location, language, and even our upbringing. Diana further states that evidence suggests we don't just hear sounds differently, that we also hear music differently.

Nature or nurture? Either way, the result is unambiguous; people HEAR music differently! 

It begs the questions: What do you hear compared to me? What can't I hear that you can? And, how does what we hear or don't impact our teaching?

We have long known the significant impact music has on our physical, mental, and emotional state. What we didn't know what that music is more than a universal love, it is a unique experience that is tailored to each individual person. 

In other words, you and your friends may be listening to the same song, but are hearing different things. 

How does this impact our teaching? Does our auditory style affect the instrument we chose to play or ensembles we join? Does it impact the literature we choose or composers we like? Does it lead us to alter our ensemble size or instrumentation? Does it influence our like or dislike for a type of musical activity (marching band/string quartets/other)? Does it affect how we seat our groups or assess our student(s) progress? Does it mean clinicians hear my ensembles differently than we do?

Most important, does it mean that I am missing out on what others can hear?


What Diane Duetsch and the Tritone Paradox teach us is that music is more than an artful expression. It’s more than a tactile act. It’s more than an aesthetic experience. It’s a summation of who we are and the lives we’ve lived. It says that how we hear music is as unique to us as our fingerprint. 

I am hearing exactly what I am supposed to hear. And you are hearing what YOU are supposed to hear. 

We have always known that creating music was an act of personal expression, but now we understand that it is just as personal going in as it is coming out.

This changes how I see music, unless there is a paradox for sight too! And if there is, please don’t tell me about it, I have heard enough for one day!

Me, MySelfie & I, Part 2


Hey Scott,

Selfies have been a dominant part of the teen landscape for as long as smartphones have existed. It’s hard to go anywhere that teens gather without seeing someone with an extended arm and making a “duck face.” Selfies, usies, groupies, celebfries, and injurfries. Yep, these are all real! (editors note: I’m pretty sure Scott is making this up) and are all a variation of the time old obsession of self-documentation. Today’s teens are merely carrying on an age-old tradition embraced by cavemen, children, and some of our world’s most acclaimed artists (Van Gogh, Da Vinci, Rockwell, etc.)

Is all of this self-capitualization an act of narcissism or a cry for help? The answer is… YES!

As I mentioned last week, recent studies show that Americans are a lonely group of folks, and recent studies indicate that young people are the loneliest of them all. 

Yep, that’s right, that gaggle of teens wandering around your campus snapping pics of themselves and posting them on Instawhatever might not be self-absorbed, they might be lonely.

Loneliness is a blurred state that marries ones personal, mental, and physical health and it’s effects on young people can be tragic. Depression, self-harm, and suicide are on the rise and can be indicators that with greater access comes greater isolation. 

In fact, research published in 2017 by psychologist Jean Twenge at San Diego State University suggests that more screen time and social media may have caused a rise in depression and suicide among American adolescents. The study also found that people who spend less time looking at screens and more time having face-to-face social interactions are less likely to be depressive or suicidal.

How do we address this crisis of connection among our nation’s youth? MUSIC!

In a similar, but unrelated, recent journal article, researchers discovered that it takes approximately 90 hours to make a new friend. Sure, you could become “acquaintances" at 25 hours or eventually develop a "casual friendship" at a mere 50 hours, but to develop a true bond, researchers put the benchmark at 90 hours. The study further noted that the closest bonds of friendship were formed when the individuals were doing something that they enjoy together. 

Ninety hours may seem like an arbitrary mark, but it makes perfect sense to anyone who has ever participated in a school music group.

Think about it, a typical school semester involved approximately 90 hours of instruction. Even more ironic is the fact that a typical marching band season involves roughly 90 days of rehearsals. Don’t believe me? Grab your rehearsal calendar from this year and count. Go ahead, I’ll wait! 

(insert timely pause).

Amazing, isn’t it? This is why music kids have such a bond. This is why friends made through your ensemble often turn out to be life-long friends. This is why we remember students and they remember us, long after our time together has ended. This, among many other reasons, is why this activity matters so much!

Whether this friendship calendar was by design or happenstance is irrelevant. The activity of doing something together that they love (making music) provides students with an opportunity for connection and closeness that is becoming increasing rare in our schools and even rarer in greater society. Through experiences, facilitated by music, kids are making more than melodies, they are making memories! And if you believe these studies, they are doing so in a fashion that can be more than life changing, they can be life saving.

#selfieaware, #selfieassured

Have a great week, 

Me, MySelfie & I, Part 1


A recent NPR report stated "Loneliness isn't just a fleeting feeling, leaving us sad for a few hours to a few days. Research in recent years suggests that for many people, loneliness is more like a chronic ache, affecting their daily lives and sense of well-being." 

About half of all Americans report being lonely. And, as NPR reports, young professionals and teens bear the heaviest burden. 

This is another example of how the internet has turned our professional and personal worlds upside-down. We're more networked than ever, and yet appear more alone than ever. A recent study by Cigna Health, using the UCLA Loneliness Scale, showed that more than half of survey respondents — 54 percent — said they always or sometimes feel that no one knows them well. Fifty-six percent reported they sometimes or always felt that the people around them "are not necessarily with them." And two in five felt that "they lack companionship," that their "relationships aren't meaningful," and that they "are isolated from others.”

As a profession, music educators can be among the most isolated teachers in their school communities. It’s not on purpose, but it might be by design. We teach a curricula (music) which few understand, and often teach in secluded/separated facility away from our non-musical peers. We rise before dawn and rehearse well into the night, making it difficult to unplug, unwind, and nurture relationships outside of our jobs. Our lunch breaks are twenty-two minutes and our departments are the smallest on campus. We are separated from district or community peers by physical geography and space. 

Yes, being a music teacher can be a very lonely existence. But it doesn’t HAVE to be.

I have, in the past, used this e-zine to discuss the problem of professional isolation, but now I am going to use it to help solve the problem. 

As as part of Teacher Appreciation Week, my team has created a way in which you can reach out and connect with a colleague and tell them how much you appreciate them. The button below will take you to a landing page where you can send a colleague a note of support and tell them what you appreciate about them. All you have to do is enter their name, email address, and a brief note about what you appreciate about them. We (and the magic of the inter-webs) will do the rest and deliver it for you! 

Not sure who to send a note to? What about your colleagues (musical & non-musical), administrators, custodians, grounds keepers, school secretary, private lesson teacher, feeder teacher, music store reps, marching staff, booster officers, MEA officers, etc? The list is as long as your creativity and generosity is willing to make it. Come on! Get creative and share some love!

We are asking you to take five minutes to make five peoples day! It will not only make our profession a a little less lonely it will make their world a little more lovely.

It's Teacher Appreciation Week, so take five minutes to appreciate five people!

My Son's Piano is Killing Me


Karl Greenfield is like every other parent on the planet: worried, stressed out, and exhausted. The problem is that his 13 year old daughter is even more so. He would find her pretending to go to sleep only to be doing homework instead. She was skipping out on activities and family time to finish algebra problems and memorize English quotes. 

He wondered whether her extreme study habits was a result of her inefficiency or a burdensome workload and decided to find out. So, for one entire week, he did all of her homework with her. Over a period of seven days, after a long day a work, he sat down and did everything he could, but not everything that was required. 

It turns out that HER workload was more than HIS body could handle, as for seven straight nights; he fell asleep long before his daughter did.

Despite the popular belief that young people are lazy, students today work harder and longer than ever before. As I chronicled a few weeks ago, today’s high schools have an entire extra year of graduation requirements to meet than was the case just twenty-five years ago. In general, today’s students are doing more with less academic time than my generation did.

And our students carry the extra burden of music on top of that.

Students involved in music can spend up to an extra twenty additional hours a week involved in rehearsal, practicing, sectionals, etc. They rise before the sun and go to bed long after the moon has risen and through it all spend their entire days academically engaged with little room for rest or relaxation. And yet, I still constantly hear the phrase, “Kids today aren’t as committed as I was?” 


I remember myself at 16 and I was a bonehead. Even as a teacher wanna-be, I was late, lazy and lack-luster in all things, musical and otherwise. I was slacker personified.

Yes, it's easy to question the work ethic of young people. In fact, it's as old as time itself as Socrates lamented over the same thing. And in that way, and that way alone, Socrates and I are similar.

Just yesterday, for the bazzillionth time, I had to remind my lazy son to practice his trombone and piano. He sharply responded that he had already practiced five days this week and that was enough. Just as I was about ready to lay the hammer down, he screamed, “When was the last time YOU practiced?” I told him that I play every single day. He said, “Playing Billy Joel is NOT practicing! When was the last time you PRACTICED?”

Ummm… Let’s just say it’s been awhile. A VERY long while.

It turned out that I was criticizing him for, well… Being like me: a lazy undisciplined pianist.

So, yesterday I sat down to work on the same piano excerpt he was was working on. As I painfully blundered my way through the excerpt I was reminded that sometimes I am better at talking the talk than walking the walk. 

I guess that’s why I have the job I have and he has the job he does. He does all the walking and I do all the talking.

Being a student isn't the the most difficult thing in the world, but it's not the easiest either. Students deserve credit when they achieve and guidance when they fall short. Through it all, let's remember that in good times and in bad, we're in it together!

You don't have to be Socrates to find the flaws in our youth. But, you don't have to be a genius to find the good in them either.

Have a great week.

p.s The picture above is my son and his piano teacher at their lesson last night. Miss Megan (as we call her) is a saint as she always sees the good in my son. That is why she is his piano teacher and I am not. Well, that and the fact that I am a terrible piano player.

Losing the Steins, Data, and Music Education


A team of researchers at Stanford University recently studied the careers of America’s best and brightest innovators and inventors and concluded that children who come from the top 1% of household wealth are 10X more likely to file for and receive a patent than those coming from lower income households. The children from the lesser affluent areas showed equal aptitude and ability but consistently achieved at a lower level.

What were the difference makers between those who succeeded and those who didn’t? The answer: the access and opportunity that comes with affluence.

The study went on to conclude that, year after year, America loses thousands of potential Einsteins to poverty. These children are capable and willing, but lack the opportunities afforded to their more affluent counterparts.

Yes, we are losing Einsteins, but what about Bernsteins?

A 2013 data study of public school students involved in music education showed that while the disparities of wealth were not as prevalent, there were inequities and trends were worth noting, including:

  • Participation in music among 8th grade students has trended down from 55% in 2004 to 46% in 2013.
  • White students showed higher participation rates than their non-white counterparts. 
  • Females are much more likely to participate in the arts than males
  • Teens whose parents were more educated had a higher rate of participation than those whose parents were less educated. 
  • Students who plan on attending a university showed significantly higher participation rates than students who did not plan on attending college. 

The disparities only grow larger once students leave school. According to Data USA , among music professionals:

  • On average, men earn significantly more money than women. On average both earned below the adjusted federal poverty limit for a family of four, $35,785
  • Men make up 60% of the workforce with women making up 40%. 
  • 76% of the professional world is white, with the remaining 14% being other ethnicities. 
  • Most professionals have college degrees, with the greatest concentration being in music (40%), education (20%), and business (10%). 

I know that we as music educators work hard each and every day to cross the ethic and economic divides. I also know that music represents a great equalizer for many young people as it provides positive life experiences that can provide a pathway out of poverty. But, we can still do more. 

Regardless of our shortcomings, America’s music education system (music instruction contained within the school day) is the largest and most successful system in the world. The data shows that our singular and comprehensive approach exposes young people or all backgrounds to music in ways that places us at the top of the educational mountain top. We are able to achieve all of this because of YOU! YOU are the best of the best and the standard bearers for this incredible activity throughout the world.

But as we stand at the mountaintop, we all know that we have some room too grow in ensuring that ALL students, regardless of gender, race, and socio-economic status can make the climb with us. 

After all, what good is making it to the top if we left behind a generation of Bernsteins Or Einsteins.

Have a great week.

Transactional Memory & Making Me Whole

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Transactive memory is a psychological hypothesis first proposed by Daniel Wegner in 1985. 

Without getting too technical (or weird), a transactive memory is one that is encoded, stored, and retrieved collectively. 

Think of it as having a part of your personal memories based in the cloud. And by “cloud” I mean someone else’s mind, but you are still able to retrieve it.

Before you think that I've lost my mind (is it stored in yours?), you should know that there is some serious research and anecdotal evidence that this stuff could be real. For example, when you hear someone who has recently lost a spouse say, “I feel like I have lost a part of myself,” according to transitive memory, they have. When a spouse dies, so does a portion of their own memory stored within that spouse.

I know what you are thinking, “Scott (insert long condescending sigh), you’ve been reading WAY to much Deepak Choprah & Eckhart Tolle!

While transactive memory was initially studied in couples and families it was later extended to teams, groups wanting to develop and achieve a "group mindset.” Before you discount the possibility of this being real, consider the evidence. 

In a journaled published study, several groups were studied during the learning of a task and when the group members were trained together, the team developed a stronger transactive memory system, recalled more information, and made fewer errors compared to teams where individuals had gone through the same training but separately. As a result, groups that trained together performed better in the task. 

IF this is true and IF transactional memory does really exist, it would explain a lot about why music education matters. Think about it. The fact that we place seniors with freshman, all-state players with beginners, and veterans with rookies allows for a unique transfer of information that accelerates the learning process. This is more than just role modeling. This is validated assimilation of information at an accelerated rate based (in theory) on group interaction.

It’s no secret that teaching music is getting harder. It’s also widely understood that by and large, ensembles today are performing at higher levels than ever before. Could transactional memory be the reason for both of these things? 

Is it possible that this “group-think” is responsible for the large scale and incredible gains made in the activity the past 40 years? Is it conceivable that year after year, as current seniors elevate freshman, that four years later, these newly minuted “seniors” were better prepared to advance their freshman? Is transactional memory part of the reason that music education is in a perpetual and accelerated state of advancement not found in other curricula?

The answer is, I don’t know. 

But, what I do know is that music is different than other classes. That the memories made through music are deeper and the learning is more profound. That despite the notes and rhythms being unchanged year in and year out, that the experience is entirely unique to each ensemble and each year. That working with students for four hours is nothing like working with them for four years and I miss those deeper relationships and shared memories. 

I also distinctly remember that each and every May, as my graduating students departed, I felt as if a little part of me was leaving too.

So maybe there's something to this transactional memory stuff. I just wish you were here thinking with me so that we might think about it together and figure it out faster

Have a GREAT week.

Ban On the Run and My Amateur Thoughts

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Last month, Roger Bannister died at the age of 88. Unless you’re an avid runner or a sports history enthusiast, you might not recognize the name, but in 1954, Roger Bannister was known the world round as the as the first person to ever run a sub four minute mile. At the time, the four minute mile was considered the holy grail of athletic achievement and his time of 3:59.6 placed him in the Pantheon of athletic accomplishment along side Babe Ruth, Jesse Owens, and Bobby Jones.

Keep in mind that this was 1954, and that Bannister achieved the feat without the benefit of finely crafted shoes or an indoor track. He did so without nutrition supplements or an advanced understanding of the importance of a proper diet and workout regimen. He did so without a personal trainer, speed coach, or membership to a track club. In fact, Bannister was a medical student at the time and only trained during his lunch hour. Even more incredulous is the fact that he broke the record after working a full morning shift on his feet at the hospital where he served as an intern. 

“However ordinary each of us may seem, we are all in some way special, and can do things that are extraordinary, perhaps until then…even thought impossible.” 

- Roger Bannister

In the truest sense of the word, Roger Bannister was an amateur athlete. That doesn't mean that he wasn't extraordinary, it simply means that he didn't focus SOLELY on his craft of running. He did not rise at dawn and spend the entirety of his days training. He did not compete against the best while traveling the world; he was too busy for that. He was a medical student, friend, sibling, and by all accounts, a perfectly affable and likable guy. But he was extraordinary in all of his ordinariness.

Somewhere over the past fifty years we have confused amateur with mediocre, and they are nothing alike. It is as true in sports as it is in education.

Recent (educational) trends have seen a strong and growing movement towards the development of pre-professional skills. We encourage kids as young as middle school to choose a “vocational path” and pursue college and career readiness. We encourage them to get academically focused with S.T.E.M., A.V.I.D., Advanced Placement, and International Baccalaureate. We tell our athletes to pick one sport and train exclusively on it in hopes of earning a scholarship. We do all of this, but to what avail?

The belief that equates singular with better is simply not true. Singular is not better, and amateur is not mediocre.

High school & middle school students are not (pre)professionals and should not be treated as such. They are not a career choice or professional pathway. They are children whose only job should be to learn, grow, and play. Yes, as a parent of a twelve year old, he is MANY things, but pre-professional is not one of them. He is an amateur student, an amateur athlete, and an amateur musician. HE IS AN AMATEUR. He is not meant to chose his life work yet. He’s not meant to chart the course of the next fifty years of his life. He can barely manage to remember to practice his trombone and put his clothes in the hamper (unless the kitchen floor counts).

He is meant to experiment and explore. He is meant to grow and learn. He is meant to succeed and fail, AND MUSIC PROVIDES HIM WITH ALL OF THESE EXPERIENCES!

He plays music not to be a musician, he plays music to be human. He plays music to be a child. He plays music to explore, to be a kid and to have FUN!

If there is ONE THING we learned from Roger Bannister it is that amateurs can not only do extra-ordinary things when given the opportunity, and that they can inspire others to do the same. Since that day in 1954, after opening the flood gates of human achievement, thousands of others have run four minute miles, including AMATEUR high school athletes.

Roger Bannister gave up running shortly after achieving that remarkable record to pursue a career in medicine. And even though he chose a non-athletic professional career, he will always be remembered as an amateur athlete.

Roger has stopped running now, but his lessons and legacy will live on through amateur forever.

Have a GREAT week!

John Philip SoUSA and our Patriotic March!

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This past Friday night I received a call from some close teacher friends in Oklahoma. They wanted to talk about the current situation in their state and the impending teacher walkout. The conversation lasted almost an hour. Although they asked for my opinions and input, I think that more than anything they wanted to know that they weren’t alone.

And alone they are not.

Tens of thousands of teachers walked out of their classrooms on Monday in Oklahoma and Kentucky. This follows a similar action in West Virginia and an impending strike looming in my home state of Arizona. As parents and teachers across this country rally for better pay and more funding for their classrooms, one thing has become abundantly clear, as a people and a profession, we are FED UP and done waiting for change.

Although the issues surrounding public education are political, they aren't partisan. Both parties have had chances to rectify the problem and have failed to muster the political will, or courage, to make it happen. Teachers are therefore being forced to stand up for themselves and their students in a way they never imagined. 

To teach is to serve.

Like other professionals engaged in serving their communities, we as teachers should be afforded the requisite tools necessary to do our jobs at the highest levels and in the safest ways. This is a privilege we as citizens have and a burden we should gladly embrace. 

To teach is to have courage.

The issues at play here are complex and are as unique as they are personal. Each teacher and administrator has deeply held personal and professional convictions that guide their decision making processes. But whatever decision is reached, it took courage to get there. Courage to stand up and make voices heard and be held accountable for their beliefs.

Eventually, these teachers and students will return to class and I sincerely hope the events of the last few days will be the source of some rich learning opportunities. THIS is social studies. THIS is economics. THIS is language arts. THIS is music education. THIS IS A LIFE LESSON, especially when it comes to teaching music.

Teaching music is different!

Music teachers hold a special place in their school communities. Increased visibility and the special relationship they have with their students comes with a greater degree of scrutiny and accountability. Yes, in many places, music teachers are more than leaders of young people, they are leaders in their community as well. In times of crisis, leaders must take a stand and lead.

Needless to say, I am as proud as I have ever been to be a part of this profession.

So as our conversation came to a close, I told my dear friends that no matter what they decided, I loved and supported them and liked their chances for success.

After all, who better to lead a march than a conductor?

Have a great week!

Music Education and The (Im)Perfect Persian Rug

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According to Wikipedia, a Persian rug is a "heavy textile carpet made for a wide variety of utilitarian and symbolic purposes." Produced in Iran (historically known as Persia), this 16th century art form of carpet weaving is an essential part of Persian culture and Iranian art. Within the group of countries that produces Oriental rugs, Persian carpets are singularly known for their elaborate colors and artistic design. They are treasured as collectibles in museums and private estates throughout the world today. 

Persian rugs are still woven today by nomadic tribes and by royal court members alike. As such, they represent different but simultaneous lines of tradition and history of Iran’s various people. Despite sometimes similar appearance, no two rugs are the same. They are as varied as they are specific. In fact, experts can tell exactly, just by looking at the colors, textiles, and crafting techniques, exactly where and by whom a rug was made. Yes, all rugs are different, but carry one singular commonality.

They are ALL flawed.

There is an old Persian proverb stating that to be a true Persian rug it must be: “Perfectly imperfect and precisely imprecise." 

The underlying premise of the proverb is that man is flawed and therefore so must be everything we create. Setting aside the religious nature of the proverb, it further states that there is beauty in the imperfection as it reminds us that we are all human and are as imperfect as we are original. In that way, we are all like the Persian rug: “Perfectly imperfect and precisely imprecise."

People go to extraordinary effort to seek out the imperfection of each rug and by doing so are forced to examine so closely that one cannot help but appreciate its perfection. If the rug were, in fact, perfect, we would be miss out on the opportunity to truly appreciate its beauty and uniqueness.

The same holds true for music. Frankly, few educators work as hard at finding imperfections. In rehearsals and performance, most of us obsess over mistakes while ignoring what beauty actually did occur. A passing grade is not an acceptable benchmark and a 90% effort is likely to be met with contempt and disdain. In this way, rug makers and music educators have a great deal in common.

But our commonalities don’t just end there. In rugs and in music, one must search for mistakes in order to find perfection.

As we dive into score study and rehearsal recordings looking meticulously and methodically for flaws, we see the genius of the composition. As we rehearse with our student musicians, we are forced to search harder and harder for mistakes, thus showing us their growth. Through all of this, we grow to better understand and appreciate not just the literature, but the young people performing it. To hear the work of Percy Grainger is as pleasing as seeing a fine Persian rug. But, to study and rehearse Grainger is know and appreciate his genius on a different level.

We are all imperfect. Our literature, students, our jobs, and our lives are filled with imperfection. In fact, I myself have perfected the art of imperfect. And, we tend to focus on the shortcomings of our lives rather than the abundances. But remember, in order to find the flaws in our professional and personal lives, we are also forced to to appreciate their beauty.

Because like the Middle Eastern woven works of art, we are all (Im)Perfectly Persian.

Have a great week!