Last Wednesday night, I sat in disbelief as I looked around the almost empty 10th floor lounge. Five Eastman students bothered to show up to the first ever Eastman Community Outreach meeting.
Although five is better than nothing, I think that out of a school that boasts 500 undergraduates, the fact that only one percent managing to make an appearance is simply ridiculous.
I wonder what must be going through the minds of the majority of the students at Eastman. Had they seen the announcement signs? Were they locked in their rooms? Had they been abducted by aliens? Since I have heard from no one since the night in question, I have to assume the worst case scenario ? they just don’t care. I guess musicians do not have the time, the energy, nor the capabilities to give back to the community.
Take vocalists for example. How do you expect them to find the time on a Friday night to make dinner for the Ronald McDonald house?
They must meet their practicing demands, which can total up to 10 hours in one week. That is almost one and a half hours every day! Have a little mercy on them. They wouldn’t even be able to respond when addressed. In the singer’s handbook it clearly states, “Avoid speaking at all costs. Until you have proven yourself to be a diva, it is better that you are seen and not heard.”
Consider the brass players. What would happen if they entered the quarters of the soup kitchen?All hell would break lose.
Their mouthpieces, usually always pursed between their lips, would cause a ruckus.I can see one now, ladling soup while emitting an obnoxious sound and initiating a trickle of spit down into the soup. This adds a certain aesthetic to the atmosphere and appetite.
String players absolutely cannot submit their hands to the potential disaster associated with community service. Soup implies heat, heat implies high temperatures and high temperatures imply scalding flesh.
Of course, there is also the issue of IAD ? Instrument Attachment Disorder. Many string players, particularly violinists, cannot leave their instruments. They keep their instruments with them at all times, giving them names like “Betty,” “Cupcake” and “Sexy Beast” and even sleeping with them. Needless to say, instruments might get “fondled” in the close confines of a kitchen. It would be best if we gave string players a little privacy.
Pianists, like string players, must protect their hands, which are insured for a quarter of a million dollars. Often seen sporting mittens the size of boxing gloves, their hands might shrivel up in the frigid air of a kitchen.
I would say that a percussionist couldn’t handle the ever-changing tempi demanded of a community service activity.Accustomed to absorbing reality in organized groups of four, eight and the occasional five, percussionists would be thrown off by the complex rhythms posed in conversational phrasings.
Percussionists might want to share their charming habit of transforming objects into their personal drum set as well.I think that the community would find this attribute endearing, though, perhaps not in the presence of knives.
Woodwind players, unfortunately, are all insane. Blowing a large volume of wind into such a confined space causes hemorrhaging of the brain.Crazy people have imbalances in their blood.Need I say more?
So, Eastman Community, I congratulate you.Continue to ignore the signs posted, the contact people and the occasional interest meetings. Continue to live your lives in practice rooms paying no heed to anyone but dear old Bach and Chopin.
I admire your devotion to your instrument, your devotion to music and your devotion to yourselves.Isn’t music just to be enjoyed by the person who creates it? You have the right idea ? don’t bother giving back to the community from whence you came. You were there once, but you sure aren’t there anymore.
You’re in a well-proportioned, well-lit and well-ventilated practice room, talking to your-self.Pray, tell me, can life get any better than this?
Swanson, a member of the Outreach group, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.