May reminds me of my growing up in the forties and fifties in Ohio. My grandmother’s acre lot was in full bloom with many species of flowers, trees of all sorts and various animals. In a word, “teeming” with life. My home was next door in a half-acre lot. On this lot was a basketball hoop (regulation height), horsehoe pits, wickets set up for croquet, net for badminton, bale of hay for archery (with a target to distract us from aiming at small furry animals,) and a rudimentary baseball diamond. Sports also in full bloom.
During my childhood, life was mostly outside. My three siblings and I played outside all day, coming inside only for lunch and the occasional bathroom “pit stop.” By the end of the summer each year, I was well-tanned and almost brown with bleached hair from the chlorine in the public swimming pools. There were fences between all of the yards in our neighborhood, but there also were gates or just openings in the fences for kids to walk through. In the spring and summer, kids of all ages wandered from yard to yard looking for things to do. Our array of possibilities in sports allowed any number of participants from one to whatever, so there were times of great activity, and downtimes when we had to occupy ourselves with alternative entertainments. The hose was very popular at times. Drinking, sprinkling vegetation (and sisters), chasing small furry animals, etc. (this was not a good time to be a small furry animal)…
With no electronics, how did we ever survive? Our imaginations, our competitive natures, and our love of the outdoors helped a lot. We were social and gregarious to a point, but there were inevitable disagreements which led to pushing or shoving, but we always seemed to work things out. Without adults intervening. How did we do this? How did things get worked out among kids running around loose all summer, left to themselves. Did we turn into our version of “Animal Farm?” No… we used common sense for the most part. Elementary reason. And a lot of this developed as an adverse response to how we observed adults interacting badly and frequently. In self-defense we developed ways to interact which were better than what we were surviving under adult supervision, by using “common sense.”
We didn’t need laws from some mysterious entity to tell us to work something out. We needed something immediately. A resolution that worked for all who were involved. And, of course, there were bullies! This happened when someone, usually older, tried to take over and dictate to the rest of the smaller kids using force if necessary. (sound familiar?) In these cases, we needed someone even older who understood peacemaking and balance of power, etc. (sound familiar?) Still we worked things out without adult intervention. Usually…
Our varied sports also taught us rules and discipline. Relationships taught us a give and take attitude. A neighborhood with many varied ethnicities taught us respect for each other, and all of this was both personal and healthy. All of this transferred to music.
I started as a beginning trombonist playing with small ensembles, then small bands, then marching bands and orchestras, and I found that my previous experience in playground relationships and sports discipline was invaluable. Working together (group), controlled aggression (dynamics), standing up to bullies (trumpets & drums), following the director (rules), playing an instrument while marching in time to the music and making left or right turns (as a group), or countermarching (working as a unit), all came together and made sense. So what does all of this illustrate? E Pluribus Unum. One (unit) from many (players). We learned and we loved it. And there were no laws that told us we had to do this “or else!” This, my friends is democracy and freedom – in action! At the outset. Discipline.
Contrast this with the way our present society is headed. Our own personal circumstances. Think about this. Are we on the road to a “better place?” Or “idiocracy?” Are we approaching a real breakthrough in societal interaction? Or a break-up? Think about this…!
And when you have time to think about it in those rare quiet moments, go to the internet. Type in billsvarda.com, and choose some tracks to listen to while you meditate. Which illustrates (even though it is a commercial), that we can use music to improve our minds and our society. Love the vibrations! Love the rhythm! And, above all, love “common sense!”