The Long View

We’re back! Did you miss us? If not, keep it to yourself because our feelings are easily hurt.

On New Year’s Day, a group of my former students started posting online about their own experience with the Tournament of Roses Parade. One thing led to another and before I knew it, someone had posted old show videos, concerts, and other memorabilia. I tried to stay away from the fray, so as not to detract from their dialogue, but like a raccoon seeing a shiny object, I could not resist. I watched, listened, and read everything that was posted.

As I watched the videos, all I could hear were the imperfections of an inexperienced teacher; truncated notes and incomplete phrases layered over marching technique that was clearly outdated. I wondered if my students saw and heard what I did. I wondered if they picked up on all of the mistakes. I wondered if they knew that that they would have had an even better experience if I were their teacher now instead of twenty years ago

As I read through the comments, no one seemed to notice or care about the outdated marching style or poor musical choices. In fact, they didn’t even mention anything music or marching related. All they remembered was their experiences they had and the impact it had on them. It turns out that in their minds, they had a perfect experience, despite imperfect performances. I was amazed that even after so much time, they were able articulate the impact of their band experience in such an eloquent way

One of the things that makes music different than other curricula is that the assessment of it’s impact is unknown for years, if not decades. Yes, you receive ratings and rankings in the moment, but these do not assess the life long impact of the activity.

Assessment requires exact indicators and precise measurements. It requires adherence to a time table and consistency of administration. We achieve all of this through festivals, contests, and performances. I am confident that my assessment of these long ago performances is correct. I am just not sure that I am ready to assess the impact of them as that may take more time to determine.

How much time? 

Check back with me on New Year’s Day 2025.