Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Visions of a sunset . . .

Shawn Stockman is one of my favourite singers from one of my favourite r'n'b groups during my high school years - Boyz II Men.  His single Visions of a sunset (1996) appeared in the movie Mr. Holland's Opus, starring Richard Dreyfuss and what I loved about the film was that Mr. Holland (music teacher) spent his entire life as a music educator trying to work on his great symphony (his opus).

When I think about my time as a high school music teacher, so much of the emphasis was on teaching the kids how to read the music notation.  Granted, that's how I learned music in the Western Art tradition - I had to learn how to read the music.  However, the song Visions of a sunset talks about musicianship, about feeling the music and being able to express what music is supposed to do - connect you with people through song, things we can't express in spoken word but that combined with the elements of music - melody, harmony, rhythm, form, timbre, texture - it seems effortless yet as necessary as breathing.

Spoiler alert (but really I don't care, I'll tell you anyway if you haven't seen the movie - because you should have already seen it anyway!! A must-see movie for music lovers and teachers - like the Sister Act series) - but Mr. Holland retires and the music programme that he has been famous for is in danger of shutting down and funding removed (don't get music teachers started on lack of funding!) but his former students step in and save the day.  Often as educators, you forget about how influential you can be in the lives of the students you have in front of you - and who knows - they might have a hand in improving what you do for future generations (because you did your job right, you were doing what you are passionate about and it's just the honest-to-goodness best thing to do - elevate others, don't bring them down!)

Lived all my days trying to embrace 
Life with my heart by all the beauty
I feel and create and it spins and moves
Flows at my pace telling its story
From the tear running down my face

Sometimes our great opus in life is our connections with people.  I'm not talking about networking.
I'm talking about the fact that when you interact with someone, that you are giving of your best and not short-changing them.  Even if they make you angry, hopefully they reflect and have the sense to know that despite actions that they take, that make you angry - you were able to separate the "challenges" from the individual.  Besides. . . save the tissues for some issues.

Visions of a sunset
Just appear when I close my eyes
Takes me closer to heaven
When the flute starts to fly
And the violin cries

Our greatest opus might be the legacy we leave behind.  What will your opus sound like?