Support Our Troops

On this day to honor our fallen heros, I offer a few ways that we can support our troops:

  1. Bring them home — responsibly.  Where we’ve caused harm and instability, we have an obligation to do what we can to clear the wreckage we have brought.  Where Iraq and Afganistan need and want our help, we need to offer it.  But where our “help” isn’t wanted or needed, we need to make an orderly departure.
  2. Honor our commitments to care for those who have been wounded (physically and emotionally) and the families of those who have fallen.  Increasingly, the wounds are not apparent at first glance, but are equally debilitating.
  3. Treat all those who serve with the dignity and respect they deserve.  Don’t damn those who serve faithfully with the mistakes of their leaders.

Performing Arts: The Ultimate Team Sport?

One of the topics I’ve been wanting to write about for a while, but didn’t quite have an angle on is just how important it is for our schools to support performing arts programs (Band, Orchestra, Choir, Theater).  There have been plenty of academic studies showing a high correlation between participation in the performing arts and academic excellence, but I was looking for another angle.  As I was trying to go to sleep tonight, the topic of this post floated across my mind with such an impact that I had to get the idea down before I lost it.

So, why is it that the performing arts are the untilate team sport?  In a nutshell, you get all of the positive benefits of sports without the inherent aggression found to one degree or another in virtually every conventional team sport.  Taking a string orchestra class as an example,

  • Teamwork:  performers have to work together to meet a common goal, beautiful music.
  • Leadership:  each section has a “first chair” that leads the section.  There may also be student conductors who assist the teacher.
  • Coordination:  each performer needs to learn to coordinate their efforts with their section and the conductor.
  • Taking direction: each performer needs to follow the director’s instructions.
  • Observation:  each performer needs to pay attention to the director as well as their own performance.
  • Multi-tasking:  the performer needs to pay attention to at least three different things at once: the music, the director, and their instrument.
  • Dedication:  it takes a lot of practice and persistence to perform well.
  • Competition:  although not the focus of an orchestra, there are often opportunities to participate in local, regional, and even national  competitions.

Things you don’t typically get from the performing arts that are all too often found in sports include,

  • debilitating physical injury
  • fights
  • taunting/hostility