Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

Only the Sith Deal in Absolutes

I try to be very stingy with my definitive, non-negotiable statements about things.

Not because I’m a flaming liberal who revels in situational ethics and never wants to declare that things are utterly right or utterly wrong.  Not because one of my nicknames for myself is Captain Conflict Avoidance.  Not because I want to try and understand how the other guy thinks, just in case I might learn something from someone else’s viewpoint.  None of those reasons.

But, on occasion, I am forced to admit that there are indeed things that are utterly, desperately wrong.

I bumped into one this afternoon.


Driving home from school, I looked at the sky and decided, “it just might not rain after all.” And, “it has to be at least 68 degrees out.” Seventy-two, said the bank signboard. And, “the work I have to do … can wait for half an hour.”

So I overshot the turn that led to my house, and instead headed north to my favorite little driving range. The bag of clubs came out of the trunk, I laid down my five bucks for a bucket of defenseless little golf balls, and I headed to the extreme far end of the line of golf tee/mat things, so that no one could see me take my hacks.

Behind that particular driving range, there are a line of houses. From one of those houses emerged sounds that for anyone would be annoying, but for a music teacher – this one! – they went well beyond that.

Here was the situation: middle-school-aged boy (MSAB) was playing a syncopated series of notes – I wouldn’t call it a melody, exactly – on a tenor saxophone. No alto can make those kinds of sounds, and you want to trust a tenor guy on that. MSAB was playing them as loudly as possible given the size of his adolescent lungs. Therefore they were not pretty, they were closer to wild goose noises than musical notes, and they were interfering with my concentration somethin’ fierce. But that wasn’t why I was made to think of an absolute rule.

About every time MSAB would create these sounds, in reply came screams from, I believe, MSAB’s younger sister. The screams were to the effect of, “please cease and desist; you’re just doing that to annoy me and keep me from being able to play quietly with my friend here; please explain what we did to deserve this?”

While I never want to be accused of telling someone not to play their instrument anymore – I am a music teacher, and it’s not in my best interest to tell a kid he needs to put the thing down – I did make up this rule:

If you ever use your musical instrument as a weapon, to intentionally antagonize someone, in the manner it was being done this afternoon … you should have your playing license revoked on the spot. No discussion. No appeal. You’re not a musician anymore; you’re a terrorist.

(So go find some other hobby that will annoy people less. Like blowing your car horn to encourage someone to come out’ the house – at 1:30 in the morning. Or sitting in a library clicking a ballpoint pen over and over again. Or demanding to see the manager when there are ten people waiting in line behind you. Or getting into politics. Something soft ‘n’ fluffy like that.)

Because that’s not what that thing is for.

Even if it is school-owned.


October 15, 2012 - Posted by | band, music, teachers | , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] pretty sure I won’t write anything, and then a little tiny thing happens and either I’m irritated by it or it makes me grin like a loon, and do I launch a little essay into the online […]

    Pingback by No Obligation « Editorial License | October 22, 2012 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: