Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

We’ll Take A Cup of Kindness

The year which is just wrapping up now has had its good bits, and its ghastly bits. If you’re a follower of the news, you might feel overwhelmed by the ghastly.

Myself, I have this habit of visiting current affairs-related websites which feature daily writings by several of my favorite political writers – not necessarily a bad habit, but not always a productive one. It leads to wallowing: my Lord, the world is full of yahoos, and some of them are actually in charge.

Rather than dwell on the ghastly bits, though … in this moment, I choose instead to raise my glass to one good bit. In the spirit of “it’s gotta start somewhere”.

It’s something that I’ve been noticing in the last few months, and to my mind, it may go nicely toward countering the onslaught of online posts that boil down to “2014: The Year That Just Plain [insert faintly off-color verb, meaning ‘failed to live up to expectations’, here]”.

Pollyanna-ish to suppose that this small thing can spread throughout the whole wide world and make everything right again, … but it can’t hurt. “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are,” and all that.

It goes back to a couple of things which I’ve written about in this space, previously. In short, this year more people than usual took me up on my suggestion, at the end of summer Drum Major Academy sessions, that DMA students would be welcome to keep in touch with the staff. Let us know how things are going. Jump and shout and point to your successes! And let us help with the more challenging moments, if we can.

As noted previously, usually that yields a handful of eMails over the course of the ensuing fall semester. Now that social media is a thing, that also can yield a couple of new Facebook Friend connections each August. This year, for me, it yielded an unusual number of those. By the time Veterans Day had rolled around: two dozen.

That by itself got my attention. I tried to figure out what was different. Something in the air? Just the right alchemy during the DMA week? A particular funny joke? Something.

I thought maybe that’d be the end of the story. … Not really.

At the beginning of the fall marching season, I noted the posts from newly-minted high school drum majors that noted the completion of stellar band camps, looked forward to first performances, celebrated successful first shows, and, in particular, noted the influence on their lives of DMA’s founder. Eloquently, in many cases. If these are the future leaders of America, maybe we’re not in such bad shape after all.

I thought maybe that’d be the end of the story. … Again, no.

Before the onset of social media, DMA instructors would suggest to DMA students that they were probably meeting the drum majors of their heated-rival bands; and wouldn’t it be something if, when those bands met, the two (sets of) drum majors might be seen meeting and shaking hands and being friendly? What great message would that send to their bands?

But unless snail-mail or eMail addresses were exchanged, rather on purpose, that mid-game meeting was going to be the extent of the keeping-in-touch.

Now, though … lots more opportunity for that. As many unfortunate qualities as social media has … this is one of the good ones.

End of story?

Yes and no.

Here’s the thing I’ve noticed, and I doubt I’m the only DMA staff type who has: as summer became fall, and fall became winter, DMA students posted those band-related notes, and then began to post other things like brief tales of college applications, college acceptances, and other items not specific to band but definitely important in their lives – including moments in which DMA Starred Thoughts were relevant, and applicable, and helpful.

And without fail, the lists of people who “Liked” the posts, and the comment sections below the posts, all practically began and ended with fellow DMA students. And not, I would judge, just the drum majors of the rival band, but their drum major friends from hundreds of miles away in completely other states, from Maine to New Jersey and beyond.

Please: I haven’t been creeping. I haven’t been going looking for this stuff. It’s popped up in my Facebook News Feed, though, and over the course of the fall, it’s been nearly impossible to miss. It’s a little community of people who have spent the last four months urging each other on, congratulating each other, bucking each other up when necessary.

Regardless of what band they belong to.

The world could use a little more of that.

News pundits might scoff at this admittedly Pollyanna-ish idea. Such a little tiny idea, accomplished by little tiny people, away from the big important places and people in the world.

Yeah, well … two words:

Ice buckets.

As the great philosopher Max Bialystock noted, “Worlds are turned on such thoughts.”

It’s gotta start somewhere.

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

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December 31, 2014 - Posted by | band, DMA, drum major, Facebook, GNP, Internet, marching band, social media, Starred Thoughts | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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