Riding in to work this morning I was listening to the radio and the Christmas song, “Sleigh Ride,” came on. The strings, brass, woodwinds and percussion swirling in my head like a Colorado snowfall. I became aware that I was playing the percussion parts on the steering wheel. Beat for beat, especially the
My underarms also began to get moist. I was that 16-year-old boy with moderate adolescent acne on the stage at Hardaway High School, watching George Corradino’s direction, surrounded by my friends, who were also nervous, waiting for their parts to play out.
We had so much fun traveling to football games, marching at Falcons half time, playing drum cadences at Christmas parades, pep rallies and concerts. I didn’t realize at the time that all this fun was giving me a wonderful education. The love of learning music continues to be one of the greatest gifts of my lifetime, right up there with reading.
As I drove this morning, thinking about all the ways music has influenced my life, my relationships, my every waking moment and even a couple of my idiosyncrasies. Especially the one where I pay attention to when my windshield wipers are perfectly on, or off, the beat and the times they leap — just ahead, or lag back ever so slightly from — the beat of the music. If it is raining and I’m in my car, I will most assuredly be thinking about windshield wipers and whatever music happens to be playing.
At Arnold Junior High School Larry Kirkland was my first band director. He was a wild man. Beat me with his baseball bat “esque” paddle. Threw a metal music stand over the heads of the clarinet section onto the wall where my head had been before I hit the deck. Despite his borderline psychotic demand for perfection, there wasn’t a single person in that band that would have hesitated to take a bullet for him. He died of a heart attack while in his 20s.
George Corradino was my band director at Hardaway High School. He was tough, but we weren’t afraid of him. We wanted to do well so as to not disappoint him. Like when you don’t want to disappoint your dad. Mr. Corradino still plays gigs around town and I saw him last night. He is still a handsome man with more talent in his little finger than most people have inside their whole being.
I thought today just how much my life would have gone missing without my music education in our public schools. I’m happy that our newly “PhD-ized” Dr. David Lewis is a musician and feels strongly about the good that comes from music and arts education.
Music gives me goosebumps. Music makes me happy. Music makes me sad. Music makes me angry. Music provides the back beat of my nearly 62 years of life. I owe my love of music and my arguably impeccable sense of rhythm to music education in the Muscogee County Public Schools.