School Day

Feb 15, 2011 1 Comment by

I spend most of my weekdays in an office putting magazines together. These magazines are meant for music teachers and students in middle and high schools, but funnily enough, I rarely have much extended contact with the people who are actually using the “product.” So it was a real treat to visit Eastview Middle School in White Plains, New York, a few weeks back and speak to four separate classes, led by Matthew Hommez (thanks so much for the invite, Matt). I talked about Music Alive!, a magazine they use regularly, how we create it every month and why. I talked a little about the way the music business works and the many kinds of jobs it involves. I answered a lot of questions; among the most frequent were how much money I make (I’m not surprised when college students ask me this, but middle school kids?) and why we haven’t put, say, Eminem on the cover of the magazine (in short: you and I may like that idea, but some of your parents might not be happy about it, and that could lead to your music teacher losing his/her job). I also brought my guitar and, with a little help from Mr. Hommez, got some of the sixth- and seventh-grade chorus kids to sing. Enthusiasm about this was limited at first, but they warmed to it.

Overall, the students were friendly and receptive. A few of them have stuck in my mind: the guitar geek (it takes one to know one) who wanted to tell me all about the Tokai Strat he’d seen on a trip to San Francisco; the serious African-American boy who asked several excellent questions and then quietly came up and shook my hand at the end of the period (the only kid who did that); the girl who stayed after class to ask me more, which caught the attention of her teacher, who told me that she’s normally on the shy side. As I walked out of Eastview, I felt more energized than I’d been in some time. To have positively affected the lives of these young people, even in a very small way, was an honor.

It’s hard to say that this experience was in any way representative of what goes on in the thousands of schools across the country that use the magazines I edit. After all, Eastview is a public school in prosperous Westchester County, in a beautifully appointed Tudor-style 1930s building, with a set of choral risers in the lovely auditorium that were paid for by Martin Scorsese (a story for another time). But even so, it was an instructive and refreshing way to spend a snowy January morning, and it whetted my appetite for more. I like hanging with the kids.

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One Response to “School Day”

  1. Name says:

    Mac- I “happened” upon your blog this evening and it was such a pleasure to read your thoughts on your visit to Eastview. Thanks again for giving of your time to be with us and thank you for creating an engaging and informative publication to use with our music students every month. Please come and visit us again, you are always welcome at Eastview!

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