The Gift of being Thankful

A culture left behind?

It’s been ages since I’ve posted anything. One can construe I’ve nothing to share because in the areas of art and music I now lack common sense. But, in my defense, I share a new page on improvisation covering the use of the Alternate Bass and I am starting an new section of my own arrangements! You can look for them under Improvisation and Arrangement tabs.

4WH7044_largeI’ve been teaching drawing to a lovely young adult. The subject about clouds came up and I was explaining to her that as clouds approach us they are higher and farther up from the horizon line and this is very evident when viewing mackerel clouds. She had no idea what mackerel clouds. I explained these clouds signified wet weather in 36 hrs. She had no concept of forecasting weather before the age when satellite/radar imaging is seen on smartphone.

The youth of our country are missing out on a great deal of life experiences. Fewer go to orchestral or traditional, acoustical concerts, they don’t wait weeks for their favorite book to arrive via media mail, they don’t learn social skills by working out differences on a pickup softball or football game in the backyard and they occupy themselves most often by playing or communicating with digital devices.

A better Gift

You see images of children frantically ripping off giftwrap to get to the present. They see it and maybe ooh and ah a bit and then immediately go on to the next gift. They don’t comprehend the time, expense and or thought that went into the gift. When there is so much offered to them, they can’t seem to value that there was a cost to the gift. There was an expectation that the gift is to advance the enjoyment and development of the child.

It comforts me to know that children still prefer printed books over e-readers. Parents still value the importance of music lessons, especially piano. Children still like to express themselves artistically with hands on material. With the frenzy of gift giving, you would hope parents revert to the tried and true giving of gifts. Christmas and birthdays were never complete unless we received a book. Some years there were a few more presents, often just one or two more (and one or both were often clothes). My parents did well trying to give us one thing we would really use. It’s hard to go wrong with books, music lessons, art classes or archery instruction. These expand the child’s world through words or improves their sense of accomplishments and helps eye, hand and mind coordination through the mastery of a skill. Yes, these are often solitary pursuits, but they are shared socially. By the way, if one of us children in my family struck out in the present department, we still better not make faces, pout or not be thankful because giving thanks is giving back a gift in return. After all, even God thinks it is wrong to be unthankful (2Timothy 3:2 “For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy…”). Much of our news is generated by stories of unthankfulness. It seems as if everyone is focused on how they are offended or unappreciated instead of being thankful for a country where they can express themselves and have the option to choose how they will live their life.

So, think about your gift giving, may you have a good response. Here’s a link to a past post about thanksgiving. Be Thankful!!

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Politics, the National Endowment of the Arts & the Challenge

January 5, 2011

GOALS

Well, Christmas is over, the bowl games just about done (Ouch to the Big 12!) and most of us are fat and unhappy. Unfortunately my husband and I had the stomach flu and I went through a deep cleanse so complete my colonoscopy would have shone brighter than the North Star!  But – Now is the time to boost our morale by conquering something new.  Improvise!

Now, if you have never taken piano lessons – don’t despair. This is a great time to begin. Waiting lists to get into music studios are way down and many have openings for new students. Call music stores or churches to get contact information for teachers.

IMPROVISATION

Now, improvisation is a funny thing. If you can read music well enough to play the melody, you often have not learned to improvise. If you can only play by ear, you probably already know how to improvise – but you are also dreaded by most piano teachers who struggle to teach you how to read music. Let’s do BOTH. Learn those staff notes and read my page on improvisation. Let me know if you are hitting any snags (or wish to call me names) and I’ll try helping you over those bumps in the road.

A POLITICAL ASIDE – and challenge

The Climate

Our nation has gone through a great upheaval in political tolerance this last year. Let’s be honest and politically incorrect – a majority of Americans finally woke up enough to hate what Washington continues to do and decided ON THEIR OWN to do something about it. They voted. Some formed TEA PARTY groups that far underrepresented the number of citizens who agreed with them. They didn’t wait for Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and other talk show hosts to voice their opinions. They went bodily to town halls. They told their representative exactly what that representative member was supposed to represent. They cinched the belt tighter. They budgeted Christmas expenses. They stayed home for vacation. Thosee citizens pulled out their hair while Congress spent more on protecting union jobs and Congress cut defense and Congress blew the Health Education&Welfare budget. They seethed while Obama vacated again and again and again in our face and at our expense while mouthing empty, conciliatory words from a prompter.

The Challenge

Art and Music have always claimed my love and time, yet while China continues to mop up our spilled unfunded endeavors Congress refuses to budget. If the citizens (of which our lawmakers are a part) must cut drastically because of the economy, why are they exempt? They cannot be and still claim to help America. I propose a cut of at least 60-75% in the National Endowment of the Arts. Though only one department, if all NON-essential departments cut back deeply, then maybe we can survive. Let government come to a halt for a few weeks. As long as National Security and Social Security departments still move forward who cares.  Government officials are just afraid the citizen will find out how much of the government is non-essential.  Some of the 2010 NEA expenditures breakdown as:

$ 57,708,710 for 64 partnership grants to states, regional and national entities

1,050,000 for 42 individual literal writing grants for prose

1,690,000 for 169 Challenge America Fast-Track Review grants (whatever that may be)

8,395,000 for 254 Learning in the Arts for Children and Youth grants

4,020,000 for 53 grants for Arts on Radio and Television

275,000 for 16 Literature Fellowship grants for Translation Projects

The total from the above grants is $ 73,138,710 and still doesn’t cover millions more in dance/opera underwriting, visual arts exhibits and more. When a nation is bankrupt, they don’t dance the jig. Our deficit calls for only essential expenditures. There is something to be said of a culture when communities will fork down millions to build monuments to sport activities for their high school or college sports but leave little resources to allow the soul to rejoice, think and mourn. Let us mourn the condition we find our beloved nation and show our resolve by leaving our feckless lover-the NEA. Let artists beg forgiveness from our true lover – the connoisseur of the arts and the honest heart begging for self-expression. Let it not be said of artists that we bled our nation dry. Staunch the bleeding wound and feed the hungry purse by giving hope to Americans by our example and producing honest arts. When our nation is again strong, both the individual and the corporation will fund the arts.