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Explorations in intuition : breaking boundaries and reclaiming voice through A/r/tographic process Toth, Michael 2007

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Explora t ions i n In tu i t ion: Break ing Boundar ies and Rec la im ing Vo ice th rough A / r / t o g r a p h i c Process M ichae l To th B. M u s . , The Un ivers i ty of Br i t i sh Co lumb ia , 1987 A T H E S I S S U B M I T T E D I N P A R T I A L F U L L F I L L M E N T O F T H E R E Q U I R E M E N T S F O R T H E D E G R E E O F M A S T E R O F A R T S i n T H E F A C U L T Y O F G R A D U A T E S T U D I E S (Mus i c Educat ion) T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A J u l y 2007 © M ichae l To th , 2007 Abstract For me, the path is now clear—release the deep intuitive feeling first and then reflect and respond through intelligence and internal aesthetics. This thesis of creative scholarsh ip is about process, permiss ion , a n d or ig ina l voice. I have used intu i t ive mus ic , poetry, and narrat ive to create a mul t i - faceted tapestry that exposes my l i fe roles, m y feel ings, my values, and the grayer, i n -between areas of know ing , teaching, and learn ing. Th is process of rediscovery and rec lamat ion of voice has been one of art ist ical ly g iv ing mysel f permiss ion to break th rough m y personal masks and roles as we l l as t ranscend cu l tura l parad igms to locate myself. The methodology of A / r / t o g r a p h y (Springgay, S., I rw in , R.L. , W i l s o n K i n d , S. 2005) was chosen as a path to make sense of mul t i -s tor ied archetypes a n d m u l t i -layered avenues of art ist ic expression. Th is process is rendered th rough concepts of excess, metaphor , openings, cont igui ty, metonymy, l i v ing inqu i ry , a n d reverberat ions. Render ings enable art ists, teachers and researchers to interrogate the interst i t ia l spaces between th ings, for example image and work , text and audience, researching, pedagogy and ar tmak ing (Springgay, S., I rw in , R.L . , W i l s o n K i n d , S. 2005). The art ist ic explorat ions and consequent render ings of revelat ion and ref lect ion of th is ontological explorat ion can be loosely grouped into seven major themes: Personal Context and Context fo rmat ion Heroes Regrets Issues w i th the prevai l ing cul ture N e w beginnings (The importance of) Artistic/Transcendent/Arational spaces Reflections and intimate looks into the form and function of educational landscape. The writing and music were then analyzed in light of who I am and what I know. Results consisted of a number of conceptual strides forward in both my artistic vision and my teaching. Overall, a/r/tography enabled me to gain deeper autobiographical understandings about issues that have shaped my view of the world. From music, poetic and narrative renderings, I learned valuable insights about the real me. I discovered a multilayered individual inside who became re-energized and revitalized about finding my inner voice. From a/r/tographic renderings, I analyzed and reflected on what I learned and unlearned. Though there were resolutions, there were also new directions as I explored intuition, broke boundaries and reclaimed voice. I sculpted and embraced stories behind stories about myself. The notion of hero surfaced while regrets brought new narratives. Who am I? I am artist, teacher, guitar player, and a/r/tographer. m Table of Contents Abs t rac t . i i Table of Contents iv Demo C D of Poetry, Narrat ives, Soundscapes v i i Acknowledgements ix I've Em(braced) : A P o e m of In t roduct ion. l Section I: Beginnings • • • 2 The Fable of the Sculptor ...i Stories beh ind the Stor ies • • • • 4 The Masters Exper ience as L i m i n a l Phenomenon . 5 The Story of the Na ive A / r / t o g r a p h e r 7 Autoethnography i l A / r / t o g r a p h y 13 The Inevi tabi l i ty of the Onto logical D a n c e . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Reflect ions i n the Inf ini te Now. 18 The Poet and the P iper .20 Section II: A/r/tographic Renderings . . . 22 Where do I come f rom/ to? . 22 Dr i v ing W i t h N o Hands . 22 T h e Fable of Regret 25 The Unna tu ra l Act . 30 I A m Gui tar . . . 31 I A m Star t ing (to Lose) 32 I've (Em)braced 34 iv W h a t do I encounter? .35 Master F rame. 35 Big People 37 How Old?.... . 38 The Goddess of Innovat ion • • • • 39 The Hus t le r 41 The H i - f i 46 Lessons f rom the P iano 50 Sunday at the A r t Gal lery . 52 W h a t do I create? 57 H i g h W i r e Gui tar . 57 O n M u s i c Class after a Sleepless N igh t 58 H o w D o Y o u Determine? 59 Th is Day i n the Li fe. , 61 A Tr i logy of Deve lopmenta l Stor ies. 84 Heroes. 96 Section III: An Analysis of the Renderings. • • • • •. . •.•.118 Reflect ions on the A / r / t o g r a p h i c Process . . . . . . . ' ... 118 The opening of the Go lden F lower—the M i rage of Ep iphany . .121 Personal context and contextual fo rmat ion . .122 Heroes . . . . .129 Regrets. 135 Anger /a l i ena t ion w i th the prevai l ing cul ture. 138 N e w Beginnings .140 (The Importance of) A r t i s t i c /T ranscenden t /A ra t iona l spaces. .141 Reflect ions and Int imate Looks into the F o r m and Func t ion of the Educa t iona l Landscape .144 The Intui t ive Process and Empa thy wi thout Exper ience 146 Section IV: What have I learned/unlearned? 153 To Bel ieve i n Myse l f and the Va lue of M y O w n Un ique Ar t i s t i c Vo ice . 153 To W o r k on Releasing Compar isons and Cu l tu ra l N o r m s and Measurements of Va lue . 154 Contextual Shi f t ing and R e - b u i l d i n g . . . . . . . . 155 The Snake of Regret keeps at tacking. .158 Reflect ions on the Effect of the A / r / t o g r a p h i c Exper ience on m y C lassroom Teach ing • • • 158 Where to N o w ? 160 References 162 v i Demo CD of Poetry, Narratives, and Soundscapes Track l H o w Old? Track 2 Dr iv ing W i t h N o H a n d s Track 3 The Unna tu ra l A c t Track 4 The Fable of Regret Track 5 I a m Start ing (to Lose) Track 6 B ig People Track 7 O n M u s i c Class Af ter a Sleepless N igh t Track 8 The Goddess of Innovat ion Track 9 I l o w D o Y o u Determine? Track 10 The Mas te r F rame Track 11 The Hus t le r Track 12 I've E m (braced) Track 13 Thunders to rm at the P o n d ( Instrumental Narrat ive) An electric guitar is used to create the rumble of the approaching storm, various birds calling in the trees and bushes; frogs croaking quietly; insects buzzing around; the sizzle of the rain descending, and finally the melody of lightning bolts and thunder. Col laborat ive W o r k : Soundscapes for the Poetry of Car l Leggo Track 14 The Same Nose Track 15 N o Locks Track 16 Picn ics Track 17 M y Mother 's House Track 18 The Diver T rack 19 O Track 20 Lynch 's Lane Acknowledgements I w o u l d l ike to thank Dr . Peter Gouzouas is and Dr . Car l Leggo for thei r inva luable suppor t and encouragement th rough this wonder fu l process. Peter was ins t rumenta l i n conv inc ing me to embark on this journey and Car l was a beacon of l ight, learn ing, a n d ca lm throughout . I have g rown so m u c h th rough my work w i th bo th o f you . T h a n k you . I w o u l d also l ike to thank my wife, Rosemary , and m y daughter, E m i l y for thei r love and support whi le I struggled w i th the chal lenges of earn ing a Master 's degree, work ing fu l l t ime, and t ry ing to be a Dad , and a husband. Bo th of you real ized that th is process was a great oppor tun i ty for me. Love to you always. F ina l l y I w o u l d l ike to thank m y mother , Irene for her l i fe t ime of uncond i t iona l love and support , bo th of mysel f and my brother, Les. I have been able to take the r isks needed to real ize mysel f th rough your nur tu r ing love. ix I've (Em)braced I've (Em)braced Prankster , C o n M a n , L ia r , Lover , H u s b a n d , Father , T(h) inker(er) , Imposter, Preposterous Ly ing i n judgment ! Yet Somet imes N o t of th is W o r l d A s my eyes ro l l backward and the j aw drops.. . Mys t i c systemic, pathet ic and regretful Keeper of car toon consciousness, M y feet b l is ter on the hyper-heated asphal t O f Weste rn real i ty, I never learn St i l l Mys t i f i ed by the rar i f ied M i rac le of hope(lessness) Fr ightened ch i ld and o ld m a n I a m Penis crossed w i th penance Son of Zor ro and Nosfera tu , (Anti) . . . Chr is t , I w ish I knew! Saint or s inner , Cer ta in ly Foo l on the h i l l of the Academy of Power , pol i t ics and lost souls, L i m i n a l Transgressor i n the apor ia of F o u n d and lost (again) I see The oasis O r just another mirage?.. . Meanwh i le the B u d d h a of Compass ion pours Rivers of tears th rough me as I look at p ictures of M y daughter Because Somet imes I k n o w To look above mysel f Section I Beginnings The Fable of the Sculptor An autobiometaphoric overview of the type and nature of the struggles and successes of my creative life. I have a sculpture downsta i rs . It is a work i n progress. I t ry to v is i t i t every night for a few minutes. Th i s s leeping giant is , for the most part, un f in ished, w i th its character part ia l ly concealed to the causal observer. E n t o m b e d w i t h i n a sea of marb le , it is a pr isoner of c i rcumstance, wa i t ing to be bo rn . I can feel the energy f rom deep w i th in the rock and often I imag ine its muf f led, p la int ive ca l l for f reedom, even upsta i rs , when I a m engaged and intoxicated by domest ic vignettes w i th Rose a n d Em i l y . L i ke Miche lange lo , and i n the great t rad i t ion of sculptors before and after h i m , I, i n service and servi tude, s lowly ch ip away at the sacred rock to release the poor sou l . M y hands ache f rom fatigue and product iv i ty is hampered by a b ra in f i l led w i th d ist ract ing l i fe-noise- my dai ly existence, seemly, a never-ending turnst i le of more uncomple ted tasks and obl igat ions. Yet , the urgency to breathe l i fe into the sculpture is ever heightening w i th each day. I carve best th rough in tu i t ion . Th is process emerges i n the morn ing when the chatter of the monkey is low. The t r ick is to start my carv ing before I have a chance to real ly acknowledge that I a m work ing . It is i n th is m idd le space, between sleep and wakefulness, that my hands move automat ical ly , wi thout w i l l fu l in tent ion. A n d so, the spir i t shows i tself when ready. 2 A s I wake, my thoughts and aesthetic judgment come into play. They can h inder the process, but I have learned to use them to ref ine and redirect the power of the in i t ia l l ines. Fo r me , the path is n o w clear — release the deep intuitive feeling first and then reflect and respond through intelligence and observer aesthetics. This process, wh ich I have discovered after many years of searching, y ie lds m y best l ines. I shou ld have f in ished the sculpture many years ago, but I fa i led i n l is ten ing to my o w n voice. I fa i led to trust myself. I put intel l igence and the parad igm of cul ture before my sou l . Ibe l ieved i n heroes for far too long . A n d now the snake of regret has b i t ten me. Last winter , Rose and E m i l y left for a short ho l iday i n the city. Every te rm, Rose arranges th is so that I may deal w i th the demands of graduate work as we l l as a fu l l - t ime teaching assignment i n a secondary school . These weekends of iso la t ion have been a b less ing as it has a l lowed me to complete projects w i thout d is t ract ion. Th is par t icu lar weekend, however, my focus was scattered and rife w i th d is t ract ion. I medi tated and drank more coffee, employ ing a l l o f my homegrown tactics to force concentrat ion. None of these remedies seemed to improve the s i tuat ion. M y consciousness remained f i lmy and unfocussed. There was moun t ing stress and an acidic feel ing i n my stomach. The weekend hours were van ish ing qu ick ly and my inspirat ion: and product iv i ty were so l o w A t some point , I real ized what was t roub l ing me. The rock was cry ing out. In quiet desperat ion, I ran downstai rs, th ink ing that maybe an hour 's work on the sculpture wou ld muff le i ts sounds to a point be low the threshold of d is t ract ion. M y chisel and h a m m e r f lew on their own accord as m y pan icked head reviewed the graduate work 3 I'd left upstairs. W h e n my m i n d returned to the task at hand , I had to d rop the tools and run my f ingers over the forehead and b row of the emerg ing face i n the rock. The fami l iar i ty was at once sooth ing and deeply f r ightening. In the w ink of an eye, before the words cou ld f o rm , I real ized that the pr isoner o f the rock was a ref lect ion of myself. Stories behind the Stories Moving from metaphor to defining my artistic goals, expression, and personal needs. I must confess that I a m not a sculptor i n a t rad i t ional sense. The l ines I cut are not cut f r om stone, but f r om a h igher set of v ibrat ions. I a m a sonic sculptor . I carve and shape l ines o f sonor i ty as a means to represent what narrat ives somet imes fai l to reveal. Yet , I prefer to ini t iate this d iscourse w i th the metaphor o f sculpt ing as a means to i n fo rm readers of m y process. The creat ion of mus ic dif fers f rom the tacti le sensual i ty and the v isua l imagery of the art of sculpt ing. M u s i c p r imar i l y funct ions at a non-phys ica l is t ic level of abstract ion, yet, i n many ways, the processes are a lmost paral le l and the f inal products can be equal ly as mov ing . I have two areas of conscious mus ica l interest at this t ime. The f irst area l ies in the sculpt ing of soundscapes. The second involves the scu lpt ing of or ig ina l mus ica l ideas/mot i fs for spontaneous improv isa t ion . Soundscapes are var ious mus ica l composi t ions that support the autoethnographic narrat ives and poet ic render ings that I, and others, have wr i t ten. By compos ing these or ig inal sonic backdrops, I hope to seduce l isteners in to a deeper in t imacy as thei r hearts and m inds dance w i th the narrat ives. 4 The second area of interest, the conceptual izat ion of ideas for improv isa t ion and the abi l i ty to render these l ines, has been a l i fe l ong chal lenge that I have embraced. A s I l is ten to mysel f p lay the guitar, I hear a sonic autoethnographic weaving o f a l l of m y past interests, values and new areas of interest. A n d , as i n the fable of the sculptor , a par t of me has been cry ing out for years to musica l ly render a representat ion of the real me. But who is the real me? The Master's Experience as Liminal Phenomenon Creating the hook—connecting my artistic expression with my academic experience. Through a series of unant ic ipated events, m y graduate work i n C u r r i c u l u m Studies at U B C has become the vehic le th rough wh ich I move forward on this quest ion of who is the real me? Indeed, the Master 's p rogram has become a lens that has focused m y personal , professional , and art ist ic un fo ld ing . Paradox ica l ly , th is " lens" of the Master 's p rogram funct ioned i n l im ina l rhy thms to unfocus m y present not ions of self and what I know, thus a l lowing for a more expanded, stronger, and more authent ic not ion of s e l l T h e on l ine encyclopedia, Wikipedia notes, "the l im ina l state is character ized by ambigui ty , openness, and indeterminacy. One's sense of ident i ty dissolves to some extent, b r ing ing about d isor ientat ion. L im ina l i t y is a per iod of t rans i t ion, du r ing wh ich your no rma l l im i ts to thought, sel f -understanding, and behavior are re laxed, opening the way to someth ing new" (Wik iped ia , 2005). F o r me, "open ing to someth ing new" has a l lowed a repatr iat ion of my core essence as wel l as a renewed trust i n the creative process. Th i s process of rediscovery and rec lamat ion of voice has been one of art ist ical ly break ing th rough my personal masks and roles. I have used intu i t ive mus ic , poetry and narrat ive to create a mul t i - faceted tapestry that exposes my l i fe roles, my feelings, m y values, and the grayer, in-between areas of know ing , teaching, and learn ing that push m y r isk tak ing to the real parameters of who I a m and what I teach. The te rm intui t ive is used to convey the no t ion that these pieces were not rendered in i t ia l ly as part of conscious conceptual iz ing. They f lowed f rom me i n a natural and unsel fconscious manner . Thus , they are more l ike art i facts o f a l i fe wh ich can in fo rm through a / r / tog raph ic methodology. Art is t -pedagogue Barbara B icke l (2004) has direct ly addressed the issues sur round ing ar t is t ic / in tu i t ive knowing . Referencing the research of, among others, M iche l le Lebaron , H e n r y G ioux , Jean Gebser, and K e n Bei t te l , B icke l supports the not ion of arat ional knowledge (B icke l , 2004). A ra t iona l knowledge is a t h i rd and separate pos i t ion f rom the convent ional d ia lect ic ism of rat ional and i r ra t iona l thought. B icke l describes arat ional pos i t ion ing as " a fo rm of know ing that inc ludes the body, the emot ions, the senses, in tu i t ion , imag ina t ion , creat ion mak ing , the myst ica l , sp i r i tua l and the re la t ional " (B icke l , 2005, p. 5). Th is conceptual site of learn ing "can be found in the pract ices of art, medi ta t ion, psychoanalys is , the body, (and) the senses" (B icke l , 2005, p. 5). Indeed, Bickel 's d iscourse on this th i rd way of knowledge acquis i t ion reverberates in complete ha rmony wi th the processes that I have s tumbled upon and nur tu red over the years. B icke l mainta ins that through arat ional or intu i t ive art ist ic process, one may f ind the space needed to a l low art ist ic expression, self-actual izat ion and sel f -real izat ion to manifest . 6 A s a researcher, I concur w i th th is f ind ing and add that art ist ic expression and sel f -actual izat ion are inseparable partners i n the process of arts-based research. The process of arts-based research inevi tably starts and ends w i th the path of sel f -real izat ion and sel f -actual izat ion. A r t is bo th the product and process of unders tand ing of oneself and the wo r l d at large. That be ing sa id , d iscourses su r round ing art ist ic expression and speci f ical ly sel f -actual izat ion, were probably the last concepts that I wou ld have ant ic ipated engaging in when I enro l led for graduate studies. The Story of the Naive A/r/tographer Through storying, I explore the process of finding and interfacing a research methodology with my unfolding vision of research. Orig ina l ly , I entered the Master 's p rogram at U B C to t ra in my m i n d to th ink more elegantly i n scient i f ic ways. I h a d spent my l i fe cher ish ing art ist ic avenues of expression—although I had not been altogether happy w i th the resul ts—and now I felt that I needed to balance mysel f w i th the chal lenges of log ica l , sequent ia l th ink ing . M y f irst graduate course embod ied a survey of research methodologies. The prospect of us ing quant i tat ive methodologies appealed to m y yearn ing for a ver i f iable and r igorous modus operand i w i th wh ich to approach some of my research interests. A s m y t ime at U B C passed, however, I s lowly started to recognize the strength of qual i tat ive methods of inqu i ry for social science research. The courses that I took consistent ly re inforced the not ion that h u m a n beings and their resul t ing 7 learn ing and teaching activi t ies are fraught w i th complex i ty and inconsistency. W e al l house so many different dreams and needs and fears and v iew the w o r l d f r om completely un ique vantage points , based on our experiences, cul ture, spir i tual i ty , and genetics. Th is personal heritage of un ique, complex contexts mani fests i tsel f i n our understandings and interact ions w i th the wor ld . A s I began to reflect on m y own personal contextual pos i t ion ing as a researcher, I began to cons ider h o w th is wou ld p lay upon and cou ld be integrated i n my research. I yearned to examine both my experiences as a teacher of 20 years and the nature and interp lay o f m y own f rame of v iewing. M y f irst oppor tun i ty to reflect on my experiences arose i n Dr . Car l Leggo's class on Narra t ive Inquiry. Dr . Leggo, th rough years of teaching, wr i t ing , and ref lect ion, has created a c lassroom env i ronment that purposefu l ly addresses and rectif ies the somet imes co ld , compet i t ive and somet imes non-ref lect ive nature o f the graduate course experience. In short, he creates a we lcoming , st ress-reduced env i ronment that promotes comfort , heal th , and r isk- tak ing f rom h is students. W i t h i n th is context, Dr , Leggo " inv i tes" students to wr i te i n and th rough a var iety of l i terary genres. In th is un ique and safe s i tuat ion, student wr i t ings b lossom l ike spr ing f lowers. A n d , as Dr . Leggo general ly a l lows us to wr i te on any subjects close to our hearts, most students d ig in to themselves and address thei r o w n pressing issues. W i t h i n th is context, I a l lowed mysel f to wr i te poetry and short stories. A s I entered the process, I found that the same themes emerged: educat ional topics, mus ic and music- re la ted topics, research issues, and autobiographic mater ia l . 8 As I grew in the inherent safety of this experience, I continued to grow in the intimacy of my work and the level of risk-taking. In a Jungian-like maneuver, I opted to carve a series of clay figurines as a three-dimensional answer to Dr. Leggo's class request for posters that displayed some of our writing/learning. I entitled the clay figure presentation: "Life archetypes and the understanding that you teach whom you are." A deeper part of me was clearly rising to the conscious surface. The three dimensional poster erupted from my unconscious to demonstrate core archetypal roles or facets of my personality that contributed to the framing of my teaching experience. An upper level of figures represents my masks as musician, meditator, reflective family man, and teacher. This top level was mounted on a platter that could spin around a lower, outer circle of life situations/contexts, thereby symbolizing the multiplicity and "spilling over" of experience. That said, I was hoping to process and visually represent, albeit primitively, the notion that my professional life as a teacher is not separate from the rest of my life--that, in varying degrees, I teach who I am. Indeed, "teaching is performative knowing in meaningful relationships with listeners" (Irwin, 2004, p. 31). And, if I teach who I am, it behooves me, as a dedicated educator, to know myself. My subconscious, intuitive agenda in this course seemed to be an inquiry aimed at this goal. At the end of term, we were required to submit portfolios. As I organized and prepared my portfolio, I decided to support my poetic offerings with music. Indeed, I sensed that coupling narrative with music could create a powerful psychological tool for self-reflection and discovery. As a musician, it seemed a 9 natural extension to support and intensi fy the moods and spaces that the poetry created w i th what I cal led soundscapes—musica l vistas that were speci f ical ly wr i t ten to i n fo rm the l istener of subtlet ies that I struggled to convey th rough poetry. Th rough this interact ive symbios is of sound and wr i t ten wo rd , I h a d a powerfu l composi te art fo rm in wh ich each fo rm enhanced a n d in fo rmed the other. M o v i n g into wr i t ing poetry and prose a l lowed me access to an art f o rm that is potent ia l ly less abstract than ins t rumenta l mus ic . Th is coup l ing of words and mus ic freed me to process, focus, and art iculate specif ic issues th rough narrat ive, whi le s imul taneously enabl ing me to musica l ly port ray the essential moods and feelings that imbued the issues. Un l i ke wr i t ing lyr ics, wh ich often get in to areas of compromise w i th the mus ic , the narrat ive forms enabled me to say what needed to be sa id . A n d , un l i ke the beat poets of the 1950 ' s , who rapped their poetry wh i le jazz mus ic ians generated coo l , intel lectual sonic backgrounds, this mus ic w i th its compos i t iona l approach, seemed more effective and specif ic at suppor t ing the ideas tab led by the wr i t ing. Dr . Peter Gouzouas is , Cha i r of M u s i c Educa t ion in C u r r i c u l u m Studies had occasional ly v is i ted Dr . Leggo's course on Narrat ive Inquiry. Af ter seeing my archetype project and hear ing some of my soundscapes, he recognized that I was unwi t t ing ly developing a homespun methodology that paral le led the theor iz ing of a new arts-based methodology named a / r / tography. H i s unqua l i f ied suppor t of m y r isk- tak ing adventures into th is composi te art ist ic f o rm , comb ined w i th h is f r iendly 10 nudg ing to have me further investigate the quest ions that were generated th rough the project of the archetypes, conv inced me to cont inue th is l ine of inqui ry . Indeed, as Dr . Gouzouasis descr ibed and detai led a / r / tog raphy at our weekly meetings after class, I felt as i f I was a naive a / r / tog rapher who had s tumbled upon a process that paral le led the fo rmal work and theor iz ing that h a d been going on in a / r / tography. A / r / t o g f aphy, as it was be ing theor ized (by R i t a I rw in , K i t Grauer , Car l Leggo and Peter Gouzouas is ) , seemed l ike a natura l methodologica l f it for my research as it addressed the gap i n my analysis i n l ight of who I a m and what I k n o w . . It began to un fo ld who I was. A / r / t o g r a p h y embraces numerous narrat ive techniques, inc lud ing autoethnography, autobiography, poetry, and creative non- f ic t ion wh ich it combines w i th other art ist ic genres. In i t ia l ly , I looked at the methodology of autoethnography as a means to express burgeon ing narrat ive aspects of my research. Autoethnography A Partial Solution The autoethnographic movement embraces a number of values that resonate w i th m y concern of the retr ieval , reassessment, and fo rma l iz ing of knowledge. Th is mode rn methodology, l ike many social sciences that have been theor ized th rough the tenets of pos t -modern ism, openly admi ts that pure object ivi ty (i.e., knowledge wi thout contextual f raming) is not t ru ly possible. Fur ther , autoethnography embraces the not ion that researchers can part ic ipate and tu rn the process of ethnographic inqu i ry i nward on themselves. 11 Autoethnography is a natura l , post -modern is t extension of its e thnographic roots. Ini t ia l ly, ethnographers, as f ramed w i th in quant i tat ive research methodologies, represented themselves as " inv is ib le" observers who di l igent ly and systematical ly observed and recorded social l i fe and in teract ion. Th rough a series of mul t i - layered events, not the least of wh ich be ing the rise o f post -modern is t th ink ing and qual i tat ive research, ethnographers began to quest ion the modern is t assumpt ions of objectivity. Th is wave of theor iz ing sparked the development o f a host o f al ternative methodologies that at tempted to address the prob lems associated w i th objectivity. A s a result, attempts at objectivi ty i n the social sciences became tempered by the not ions of ref lexivi ty and socia l construct ions of real i ty (Ga i tan , 2000). Ever -burgeoning numbers of the academic commun i t y argued that the observer 's special vantage point w i th in research offered a un ique access po in t to prev ious ly un tapped knowledge that was in fo rmed by the observer 's par t ic ipat ion a n d experiences w i th and w i th in the area/people that were be ing researched. The prox imi ty and the interact ions of the observer w i th the observed became va lued and necessary avenues for the researcher to explore. A s Ga i tan , (2000) states, "No t only does closeness not have to result i n 'b ias' (an expression der ived f r om the bel ief that subject and object need to be kept separate), but it may foster a pr iv i leged point of v iew (an ' ins ider 's ' perspective) that can be offered to the reader so that deeper unders tand ing in conveyed." ( 2000, p. 1.) The work of E l l i s (1998) has taken the level of in t imacy and ref lexivi ty to a new level as she seeks to develop an ethnography that inc ludes researchers' vu lnerable selves, emot ions, bodies, and spir i ts ; produces evocative stories that create the effect of real i ty; celebrates concrete experience and in t imate deta i l ; 12 examines h o w h u m a n experience is endowed w i th mean ing ; is concerned w i th mora l , ethical , and pol i t ica l consequences; encourages compass ion and empathy; helps us k n o w how to l ive and cope;.. . . in short, to extend ethnography to inc lude the heart, the autobiographica l , and the art ist ic text ( 1 9 9 8 , p. 6 6 9 . ) Al though the conceptual tenets of autoethnography appealed to me, I needed a methodology that cou ld incorporate and value an in terd isc ip l inary art ist ic venture as I wanted to use an autoethnographic narrat ive style w i th music . Thus , I conc luded that autoethnography was a par t ia l so lu t ion as it offered the in t imacy and candor that I needed, but w i th a cont inued search for a methodology that wou ld use mul t i - t ie red art ist ic expression to i n fo rm. A/r/tography A path to make sense of multi-storied archetypes and multi-layered avenues of artistic expression The broader methodology of a / r / tog raphy seemed a wiser choice to f rame and focus m y research, as it is l i v ing inqu i ry that celebrates many forms and collages of art ist ic expression as a means of epistemological process ( I rwin 2005). Fur thermore , a / r / tography is a process /methodo logy that addresses the un ique needs of art ists who are also researchers, as wel l as be ing teachers— (hence the styl ized a / r / t in the name a / r / tography) . A l t hough a / r / t og raphy was or ig ina l ly in tended to assist v isua l artists i n authent icat ing thei r art as part of their research, i ts methodologica l process is be ing used for an ever-expanding l ist of diverse art fo rms, inc lud ing l i terary, mus ica l , and per format ive arts. 13 A/ r / t og raphe rs refer to six essential concepts th rough wh ich the a / r / tog raph ic methodology is f ramed and expressed or rendered. These six essential render ings or "active methodolog ica l agents" ( I rwin 2005) inc lude the concepts of cont igui ty, l i v ing inqui ry , openings, me taphor /me tonymy, reverberat ions and excess" wh ich can be "enacted and presented /per fo rmed when a re lat ional aesthetic inqu i ry approach is env is ioned as embod ied understandings and exchanges between art and text, and between a n d among the broad ly conceived ident i t ies of ar t is t / researcher / teacher . (Springgay, S., I rw in , R.L . , W i l s o n K i n d , S. 2005.) Thus , the a / r / tog raph ic inqu i ry is def ined by its pos i t ion ing of the text i n the research. Fo r a / r / tographers , the suppor t ing text is not separate f r o m the art. I rw in def ined the concept of cont igui ty as the act of doub l ing art and graphy. "V isua l /per fo rmat ive and textual processes and products are not separate and dist inct but are i n cont iguous interact ion wh ich d isrupt taken for granted categorizat ions of knowledge p roduc t ion" ( I rwin, 2005). Ar t i s t i c render ings work w i th and th rough text i n a dynamic , integrated, processional dance of revelat ion and ref lect ion. A / r / t og raphe rs are fascinated w i th interst i t ia l spaces that inc lude areas that exist at the boundar ies of thei r var ious roles as art ists, researchers, and teachers, thei r pedagogies and thei r audiences (Springgay, S., I rw in , R.L . , W i l s o n K i n d , S. 2005). The not ion of boundar ies , the b lu r r ing of boundar ies and the shi f t ing of boundar ies is an area of intense scrut iny. Spr inggay's (2004) research has led her to def ine these var ious bounded ro les/ ident i t ies as " f ragments, (that are) leaky, abject, shi f t ing, and unstab le" (Springgay in I rw in , de Cosson , 2004, p. 60). F o r Spr inggay, "it is not a b lu r r ing of boundar ies that I b r ing to m y art-mak ing , research, and teaching, but rather a boundary shift, one that is s i tuated i n 14 the seam, where mul t ip le images, ident i t ies, and ways of know ing col l ide and are i n tens ion w i th each other" (2004, p.60). The focus on the roles and the in terp lay between these roles weighs heavi ly on the direct ion(s) of the endeavor. Spr inggay (2004) bel ieves that this focus " . . . becomes an ontological complex i ty where the quest ions asked are ones of be ing: W h o do you th ink you are? H o w do you know? H o w do we per form in relat ion to these shi f t ing boundar ies?" (p. 61). The Inevitability of the Ontological Dance The first step in any original, mature, artistic endeavor is to know yourself Springgay's fundamenta l ontological ly bo rn quest ions rest at the core of any endeavor in to the arts or through a / r / tog raph ic process. S imp ly put, as artists and humans , we must k n o w ourselves i n order to know. V e x i n g quest ions su r round the issue of how we in fo rm ourselves of ourselves. Of ten, th is process of sel f - real izat ion manifests th rough a complex un / raye l i ng of real izat ions, epiphanies and regrets. Ou r own immatur i t ies and self-decept ions as wel l as external forces, act as governors to the rate at wh ich we unfo ld . De Cosson(2003) reminds of the the P ina r and Grume t quotat ion: " W e must lay i n wai t ing for ourselves. Throughout our l ives. Abandon ing the pretense that we k n o w " (P inar & Grumet , 1976, p. v i i i ) . There can be, however, nuances to the prerequisi tes and condi t ions that must be examined before we, as a / r / tographers proceed in a conscious effort at answer ing or un fo ld ing these ontological myster ies. 15 F o r one, we must see or intu i t ive ly sense the impor tance of in t rospect ion. If no value or sense of ga in is perceived, it is un l i ke ly there w i l l be any genuine progress. A n d even i f we sense the relevance of these sorts of quest ions / r idd les , we must have the courage to know. W h a t w i l l happen i f we are uncomfor tab le or disgraced w i th what we f ind? W h a t i f the t ruthfu lness of our un fo ld ing r ips at the very fabr ic of who we thought we were? It is ha rd to tu rn back. Caro l yn E l l i s ( 1999 ) wr i tes that revelatory explorat ion generates a lot of fears and sel f-doubts and emot iona l pa in . Jus t when you th ink you can't s tand the pa in anymore, wel l that 's when the real work has on ly begun. Then there's the vu lnerabi l i ty of reveal ing yourself , not be ing able to take back what you've wr i t ten of hav ing any cont ro l over how readers interpret it. It's ha rd not to feel your l i fe is be ing cr i t iqued as we l l as you r work. It can be humi l i a t i ng (p. 671) . W i t h al l of these potent ia l pi t fa l ls, we, as a / r / tographers , must bel ieve that the unfo ld ing of our true selves is indeed the correct path or at least the process w i l l eventual ly move toward some balance or new knowledge. A l s o , we must bel ieve we are wor thy enough to r isk learn ing the t ru th . A s wel l as sensing value and hav ing the courage to honest ly proceed, we must value ourselves. That is , we must bel ieve, for whatever reasons, that our stor ies, bel iefs, accumulated experiences, and acts of art ist ic expression, warrant the pub l ic act of unrave l ing and exposure. A s wel l as these hurd les, the enormi ty of the task can be daunt ing: There are many aspects of " s e l f to know. There are the deep chasms that can on ly be m i n e d through art ist ic process but there are, of course, other "selves" w i th in our 16 mul t id imens iona l personal i t ies. In fact, m y clay f igur ine archetypes were an unconsc ious outpour ing of the very issue of our many s ides /ways /va lues of be ing. M y categoriz ing of these ways of be ing is, f r om one perspect ive, very art i f ic ia l . But what in t r igued me was the ways in wh ich the archetypes over lapped and i n fo rmed the act ions of the others. Gouzouas is (2007) addresses the fo l lowing quest ion: Thus , one may consider that the synthet ic, spl i t b inar ies of teacher-art ist , teacher-researcher, researcher-art ist d issolve into a re lat ional , inc lus ive perspective of an unders tand ing of the ar t is t / researcher / teacher , metaphor ica l ly def ined by the Escher ink sketch, "D raw ing H a n d s . " Thus , each aspect of ar t is t / researcher / teacher s imul taneous ly nur tures the o t h e r -creat ing and be ing created in an ongoing process of l i v ing inqu i ry (p. 226). Thus , the shi f t ing and b lu r r i ng of boundar ies and the cont inuous c i rcu lar loop of personal ref lect ion, real izat ion, and rev is ion i n a pub l i c f o rum are cr i t ica l elements to th is art ist ic methodological process. Bu t as I a l luded to earl ier, the nuances of th is process generate for me another connotat ion of the not ion of boundar ies. W h e n I a m look ing at boundar ies, I a m not on ly look ing at boundar ies that l ie w i th - in my own mul t i - layered persona, but I have had to look at my own conceptual f raming. The l imi ts or boundar ies of m y personal i ty needed to be broken in order to generate an or ig ina l art ist ic mindset -one in wh i ch the tenacious gr ip of cu l tura l norms and values cou ld be reviewed, and , potent ia l ly abandoned. 17 Reflections in the Infinite Now Increasing the Frequency ofArational Transcendence Through Ritual The not ion of l i v ing inqu i ry is a cr i t ical premise i n the methodology of a / r / tography. A / r / t o g r a p h y is, by its very nature, a hol is t ic endeavor that synthesizes not only the mu l t id imens iona l l ives of art ists who are researchers a n d teachers but it creates a marr iage between art ist ic praxis and theor iz ing. Th is process of l i v ing inqu i ry is often catalyzed by the not ion of r i tua l ized pract ice. A / r / t o g r a p h e r Barbara B icke l has l i nked the concept of ara t iona l ism w i th a / r / tog raph ic r i tua l . She argues that the context of ara t iona l ism can be mani fested through the use of r i tua l . "Ritual essential ly inc ludes an arat ional sacred pract ice of trans-egoic respect /awareness/openness to the creative in teract ion of phys ica l , emot iona l , intel lectual and sp i r i tua l real i t ies, w i th in nature, cul ture and self, for the purpose of t rans format ion" (B icke l , 2 0 0 5 , p 7) . L i ke B icke l , I value r i tua l ized vis i tat ions to the site of the arat ional to a l low the u n k n o w n to surface th rough me and through my art mak ing . P lay ing guitar has always been a t ranscendent process for me—an entrance point to the site of the arat ional . But when I started the pract ice of medi ta t ion i n 1979,1 was surpr ised and del ighted to f i nd that it took me to the same arat ional space as my guitar. P r i o r to this, I had been quite dependent oh the gui tar to enter this zone of creativi ty that is both inv igorat ing and ground ing. M y meditat ive pract ice, wh ich is connected to the Ved i c t radi t ions of Ind ia, is steeped i n h is tory and t rad i t ion and is, by def in i t ion, r i tual ist ic. Soon after learn ing to meditate, I t ied 18 it into m y mus ic . I developed a r i tua l of always medi ta t ing before pract ic ing and especial ly before a mus ica l per formance. It is extremely di f f icult to ident i fy what this r i tua l gives me and m y art ist ic endeavors, but at the least, it produces a clear space i n m y m i n d so that it becomes unencumbered by the noisy in terna l conversat ions that rage through al l of us. I quest ion whether the arat ional process needs to be, or even can be, exp la ined. It may not be possible to sat isfactori ly theor ize the arat ional process through the dual ist ic lens of western academic thought. Pryer (2002), Ba i (2001) and Synott (1993) have argued that the cul t ivat ion of Weste rn thought a n d logos has generated a skewed, d isembod ied , and fractal sense of knowledge and knowledge acquis i t ion. Ba i (2001) refers to a loss of g round ing of ideas to our senses to a po int of " sem i -consciousness or even unconsc iousness" (p. 89). In m y experience, art ist ic endeavor is so sat isfying because it mends th is tyranny of art i f ic ia l contexts of cop ing. Ar t is t i c endeavor is heal ing and self-revelatory. M y own recent explorat ions and render ings of revelat ion and ref lect ion can be loosely grouped by the fo l lowing quest ions: Where do I come f rom? W h a t do I encounter? W h a t do I create ( in the c lassroom, the academy, and for mysel f?) These quest ions became apparent after I had spent many hours re turn ing to intui t ive, arat ional spaces, i n an attempt to rec la im m y own , authent ic voice through r i tua l ized art ist ic endeavor and a / r / tog raph ic processes. Sect ion II of this paper chronic les the rec lamat ion of voice through art ist ic render ings. 19 The Poet and the Piper The process of rec la iming m y voice was a ided by a fo rmal col laborat ive a / r / tog raph ic project w i th Dr . Car l Leggo. U p o n hear ing some of m y a / r / t og raph ic render ings of amalgams of poetry and mus ic , Car l i nqu i red i f I w o u l d be interested in compos ing some mus ic for h is poetry. Immediate ly, I j u m p e d at the oppor tun i ty to work w i th th is in ternat ional ly renowned poet and scholar of language a n d l i teracy. Hav ing agreed to the project, I was in i t ia l ly overwhelmed w i th conf l ic t ing emot ions of happiness and anxiety. Clear ly , it was a great honour to have a chance to wr i te mus ic for this poet. I had thoroughly enjoyed a n d had been moved by a l l of Car l 's poet ic per formances throughout h is classes. I adm i red bo th the poetry a n d Car l 's wonder fu l del ivery of h is works. In these episodes of per formance poetry, Car l cou ld l i f t the words off the page and breathe a new dynamic of energy and mean ing in to the works . Car l made the poetry v ibrate w i th l i fe and poignancy. A n d so, I was exci ted at the possib i l i ty of add ing another d imens ion to the presentat ion of h is poems. I was, however, anx ious about h o w Car l wou ld react to my art ist ic response to his poetry. Wha t i f I d idn ' t unders tand what he was saying? W h a t i f my mus ic emphas ized or took the poetry on an inappropr ia te tangent? A n d so in enter ing into this co l laborat ion, I establ ished an unders tand ing w i th Car l that he was under no obl igat ion to embrace any of my mus ica l offerings. A s it tu rned out, Car l had absolute fa i th i n my abi l i ty. H e never t r ied to expla in the point(s) of h is poetry. H e d id not real ly h int at any d i rect ion that I 20 shou ld take w i th the music . H e d id , however, answer some quest ions that I had about them, but he essential ly let the poems and his del ivery expla in themselves to me. A n d so, our process was extremely st ra ight forward. Car l made a few visi ts to my home studio and s imp ly per fo rmed the poems. I recorded a couple takes un t i l Car l felt happy w i th his per formance. F r o m the process, I real ized Car l had certa in rhy thms imp l i ed in some of h is var ious poems. To assist i n m y part, Ca r l agreed to have a met ronome c l ick ing soft ly i n h is headphones. It was my hope that the c l ick ing w o u l d support his own in ternal rhy thms and thereby he lp w i th the f low of the music . W e ended up record ing seven poems. Af ter numerous l is tenings to Car l 's per formances, I fo l lowed my intu i t ive process to generate sounds appropr iate to my unders tand ing. The in i t ia l ideas went qu ick ly but record ing these ideas was more labor- in tensive as I t racked mysel f again and again to create some of the mus ica l montages. It took about 150 odd hours over a three-week per iod i n Augus t 2 0 0 5 . To m y joy and relief, Car l seemed del ighted w i th the results. Both Car l and his wife, L a n a , felt that I had successful ly captured the spir i t o f h is poetry. These render ings are inc luded on the C D wi th the work ing t i t le The Poet and the P iper . 21 Section II A/r/tographic Renderings l . Where do I come from/to? Driving with No Hands Preamble: Driving with no hands is about the time When You Are Young and on the Path. It is a time when you don't know a lot about life, but you know when it feels right. Recently I had a marvelous experience that once again reminded me of the feelings that I had so long ago. This unconscious and unsolicited reflection turned out to be a gift, as the return to the "past I" in all its sensory glory helped me reclaim an important part of my personal story that I had dismissed as a sort of mistake/regret. Dr iv ing wi th No Hands Y o u cou ld never tel l F r o m these o ld mismatched clothes, W o r n out sneakers, t i red Dockers that There had ever been the presence of cool Y o u w o u l d probably never th ink that The meander ing r ivers of my facial l ines Fo rmed not f rom stress but rather f r om Years of g r inn ing f rom ear to ear A n d my large temple ve in grew for th To support the hyper -b lood f low that Accompan ies on ly the purest of pleasures, The pleasure that tel ls you , " Y o u are on the pa th " I te l l you of th is because of A change in the w i n d that (somehow) Catalyzed a breath- tak ing f lash Where my past pushed forward to dance W i t h the eternal now Fo r as I drove home today, Deep in the gr id and lock of 9 to 5 Eat ing the fumes and curs ing buffoons In a panic to get off the tar Fo r domest ic abyss in m y l i t t le house in the sub 22 W i t h its 70 ' s b ig engine t ime warp and Neighbors who are whi te-r ight of A r n o l d , I was amazed to see the sun burst th rough The heavens and bless a l l the pr isoners O f the commute And for some reason on this special day The sun connected w i th me so strongly That I longed to pu l l out a cha in saw A n d cut off the entire roof of m y o ld h o u n d dog car A n d , l ike Brother Jake , when he saw the L ight , I too wanted to jump cartwheels And drive again with no hands For it gave me a feel ing that I had forgot ten-A feel ing so specia l , so sacred, so l i fe a f f i rming That I wanted to weep at h o w E m p t y I H a d Become.. . Y o u see... There was a t ime, So long ago n o w W h e n I took a s tand, Carved out a place, A n d freeze dr ied The gr ind ing merci less pedant ic ism Of the ord inary For a chance to fo l low m y heart A n d feel So al ive, So real In th is d rama of "past I" A s a young, naive and uneducated m a n , W i t h no locus of support , Started a hero's journey Wh i t t l i ng out a strategy A n d push ing my w i l lpower in to overdr ive To solve the r iddles A n d become the player I d reamed of W h e n , as a l i t t le boy, I wou ld pretend H o u r upon hour that I cou ld gui tar A n d mus ic make w i th the best of them W o r k i n g ever so ha rd I eventual ly cracked the codes A n d bu i l t up m y hands Shaping and molding the sound Of the gui tar so that it w o u l d out susta in ing stories of my deepest secrets W i t h the tones and r ichness O f a f ine o ld v io l in So I cou ld j o in a band A n d catch the road, p lay ing Endless streams of rock and ro l l A n d the lads I p layed w i th Formed special bonds That were forged together F r o m endless adventures O n this road A n d l i ke rebel gangs W e had our colors and our At t i tude and words that meant On ly someth ing to us F o r it was a t ight team circ le O f t rust and surv iva l A n d pr ide in our strength A n d we were a force To be reckoned w i th L ike B lackbeard and Capta in K i d d A n d al l thei r scurvy mates W e w o u l d s to rm in to prai r ie towns A n d pu l l up to the docks W i t h al l guns f i r ing A n d we 'd rock and rock ' T i l we raised the roof Jus t to prove we cou ld A n d after six days and nights W e ' d pu l l up anchor Fo r the next port of l ights... This carried on for years A n d for me the th r i l l never ended A n d though there may have been Better players than I Cer ta in ly there was no one W h o cou ld surpass my passion Fo r the sport as night after night I total ly let go A n d every single show was A t once a complete revelat ion A n d catharsis of my sou l Ten years later W h e n the adventure Came to its end A n d I became " n o r m a l " again, It took me years to come off The adrenal ine- i t was l ike hero in A n d for l i fet imes after I wa lked the streets L ike a pr isoner O f the sett ing sun Crav ing the rush and the release A n d the recogni t ion A n d never seeming to score Enough to appease my mind . . . A n d it never reconc i led It just faded in t ime W i t h the avalanche of responsib i l i ty That fo l lows f i t t ing into society U n t i l th is moment when In the b l i nk of and eye I was taken r ight back To the t ime when I cou ld f ly A n d dr ive w i th no hands. The Fable of Regret It came in through the open window A t that t ime of early mo rn ing renewal W h e n the ai r feather ing your nostr i ls A n d wh isper ing warm ly cal ls F o r more engagement. Yet you ignore it and ro l l back To Neverland a l though It w i l l not be the same Even though the sun St i l l sleeps under si lent watch O f the round , observ ing m o o n . And lunar beams twinkle the sheen O n the repti le 's undu la t ing back As It Silently Slips Down From the open frame And pulses across the cool tiles In search of the posts to your bed , Its unb l i nk ing eyes and spl i t tongue Radar the dest inat ion w i th clear in tent ion A n d some part of you knew Th is was coming . Subtle a larms were sound ing By you own p r i m a l / a n i m a l be ing A s an inexpl icable feel ing O f concern. Yet w i th absolute author i ty, The "I" i n " Y o u " Has been t ry ing to suppress The knowledge of it there, A l though you are pa in fu l ly aware That you w i l l be cal led To pay the p iper Fo r th is conscious sel f -delus ion That eventual ly w i l l col lapse Into a labyr in th of d is /ease A n d despair The co ld scales b rush Agains t the soft ha i r O n the back of your neck A s the creature readies to b i n d St i r r ing your adrenal ine just i n t ime Fo r a twist and pan ic dodge That you've spent a l i fet ime rehearsing A n d si t t ing straight up , fu l ly engaged, Y o u r jo l ted wakefulness has a spl i t second To realize the size of the snake Before it speaks: "I've come to collect A n d take f rom you A l l that is due Fo r it is my duty To wrap a round A n d suffocate you W i t h your own toxins F r o m misunders tand ings. Yes, I have grown large and fat Feast ing on p lent i fu l numbers of P ro found regrets that, l ike rats, Have been enter ing the holes In your soul that open A s , i n your m ind 's eye, Y o u reflect O n you r l i fe and h o w Ve ry cr i t ical choices A t cr i t ical t imes Has paved a road That is not l i ned W i t h go ld Yes, I have observed that A s you have grown o lder A n d deeper i n the seat O f your t rue self Y o u have also cognized That your demise is Rac ing to catch you A n d your own story Is be ing etched in stone F o r t ime eternal A n d you are fast los ing Cont ro l of your dest iny A n d especial ly any resolut ion O f your messy stories O f unreal ized glory Yes, I a m the Snake of Regret W h o l ives and thr ives O n your f rust rat ion W i t h the f in i te aspect O f your short v is i tat ion Into this earthly vessel A n d w i th your misunders tandings O f the very nature O f h u m a n learning's. For you I have A little compassion (As that is the fashion) as Y o u r "I" cou ld Have scarcely k n o w n That , l ike a worker In the f ie ld , You 've sown A deadly yearn ing F o r a past reversing In outcome. A n d the deeper the regret, The larger J g row A n d before you k n o w I w i l l t ighten my gr ip U n t i l your are unconsc ious A n d consumed by it." A n d the snake's words Rang t rue l ike the deafening bel ls F r o m hel l 's hottest corners R ing ing d isor ientat ion Across the universe O f my experience. H o w cou ld I t u rn this around? W a s there someth ing so p ro found That m y th ink ing had missed That wou ld tu rn al l of this A r o u n d in my favour? "I a m afra id, 'dear' snake That there has been A clear mistake In ident i fy ing F o r it is not T W h o m you seek Fo r the T in me Has long abandoned Regrets role hav ing Boarded up the holes W h e n I came to see That regret, instead of H a r m i n g me, Is the way To measure how m u c h I have grown over this Tangled and thorny path That we al l are enslaved To endure th rough our tenure O n th is earth. A n d so w i th a l l th is regret Certa in ly you can see that That T i n m y O w n special way, Has moved fo rward A n d encountered inf in i te ly N e w days of unders tand ing A n d that what, as a boy, I had or ig ina l ly sought to pursue Has l i t t le to do w i th w h o m I am now. Regret then, for me, Is an af f i rmat ion A n d a measure That indeed, I have succeeded In mov ing mysel f fo rward A n d t ru ly g rown Through the years. A n d so, rather than fear, I choose to feast on regret A s the on ly t rue test O f my growth as a h u m a n . " The Snake d id hesitate A n d in that second of ref lect ion A n d his break in in tent ion I drew th is new blade That through sheer w i l l M y "I" had fabr icated and Swing ing my sword In my enemy's d i rect ion I severed the head A n d f rom my bed I dragged the body A n d l i t a f i re To cook the snake A n d d id mus ic make Feel ing h igher Than I had in years. The Unnatural Act Preamble: A poem about T.V. immersion in the 6o's tt The Unnatural Act N o one knew: It seemed l ike a Bonanza i f Y o u loved Lucy l ike Jean ie l ike Samantha W i t h E m m a and 86 (just the f l ip of a switch) A t the Junc t i on of Green Acres I could never resist. I loved thei r perfect ion, thei r u l t ra myth ic femin ine Looks w i th doe eyes and cheek bones Chise led out of granite and smi les That wou ld take you mi les to a distant planet o f s i ren-What possible chance did I have, but, again, To be a man , a Pa lad in , Real R i f l eman wanted Dead or A l i ve , A Chuck or a Steve, C l in t or Gary Tal lness and si lence b r i m m i n g w i th v io lence and fury T o o m u c h too soon to def ine the A m e r i c a n M a l e O n the b lack and whi te pages of h igh noon . O r out of the West and into a jungle Or Lost in Space or the courts or the fumble O f fami ly l i fe, just Leave It To Beaver Capta ins K i r k and Kangaroo, C r u n c h , H o o k and Cleaver. W i t h rabbits and mice and woodpeckers too that H a d grown up i n the Bronx , r ight next to the zoo... H o w m u c h d id I laugh? H o w m u c h do I hate H o w deep these myths d i d s ink and formulate M y bra in and assist i n the construct ion of b lack and whi te reduct ion ism That drove me and a young nat ion of over s t imulated romant ics to Rebel at the antics of a wor ld that we real ly d idn ' t know, Tune out and on w i th the show! I Am Guitar Gui ta r is not a passing phase or phrase O r an a r t / i ns t rument that I dabble w i th It is so beyond that, it t ranscends anyth ing That I can adequately describe except to say, I a m gui tar It w i l l not go away It real ly doesn't matter i f I a m good or bad , O r i f you l ike it or not A l t hough both not ions Haun ted me for far too long. The guitar has soothed me, chal lenged me, Del ighted me and grounded me Throughout al l the many chal lenges That I have endured i n this somet imes L u m p y , sad c lown Plane of existence. It has suppor ted me through var ious jobs, Bor ing rout ines, m ind-deaden ing s i tuat ions, Over-work , and negative people. It has l is tened to me ta lk through The accelerat ion of Ever -chang ing experiences, Relent less chal lenges, The coming and go ing of re lat ionships, A n d of balance w i th in mysel f Somehow it has always helped keep me in check, The magni tude of its experience, Its potent ia l and intel lectual and emot iona l palette hav ing now Unde rp i nned my whole point of v iew, M y entire value system. A n d so the l ines between "gui tar" and "I" have b lu r red I am guitar It w i l l not go away, It w i l l not go away... If I had enough r iches to stop work , I'd play guitar, medi tate, and be w i th my fami l y / f r i ends That is my bo t tom l ine, But r i ch or poor, I w i l l p lay ( N o w just) a l i t t le each day A n d i f the archetype of tragedy Ro l ls over me and Decimates a l l that I have worked So ha rd for and Destroys my fami ly , M y core, A n d br ings me to m y knees, b l i n d a n d c r ipp led In a pathet ic heap of c rushed human i ty I w i l l c rawl on hands and knees To f i nd m y gui tar to cry th rough A n d though it w i l l not offer so lu t ion, It w i l l give some solace and self-ref lect ion because I a m guitar It w i l l not go away It w i l l not go away U n t i l I do I Am Starting (to Lose) Preamble: I tend to go through experiences much later than most people that I know. For example, I didn't start teaching until I was 36 years old. I had my first child at the age of 45. I took my first Master's course at the age of 50. And now at the age of 52, well past mid-life, I seem to be having a bit of a mid-life crisis. Actually, it's more like a mid-life ripple, but the waters are agitated, nonetheless. This poem addresses the fact that something deep is changing for me. I A m Starting (to Lose) I am starting (to lose) M y l i fe now Jus t as the pieces Were start ing to connect. Jus t as the moan of p r imord ia l real izat ion of be ing is R u n n i n g al l the way up through my veins, Through my head, heart , and m i n d . J am starting to lose Jus t why I d id al l those th ings; 32 W h y in youth I ra i led and c lamored so passionately F o r f reedoms that were already sa id to be and W h y I coveted and consp i red, adorned and d isp layed and Danced to a mus ic that somet imes on ly existed i n m y head. / am starting to lose A l l my heroes A s a t ide of democrat izat ion rol ls i n A n d levels the p lay ing f ie ld Into a l i qu id f lowing mass W a s h i n g me clean and Freeing me f rom the v ic t imiza t ion of Needs to prove and Needs to be accepted... As I experience this natural wilt I s tand naked and not car ing Dis interested and d isconnected, yet Passionately involved. . . H o w can th is be? Change is i n the air... J am becoming The fool on the h i l l The inv is ib le one, the crazy m a n , Ta lk ing to h imse l f Revel ing i n h is own jokes Yet , at the same t ime, I am hear ing N e w symphon ies of l i v ing A n d concertos in the once cacophonous tumb le O f confus ion A n d I am prepar ing To be myself... And I will savour Each moment l ike a sumptuous meal served To a starv ing m a n A n d I w i l l bi te l i fe to the bone, The ju ice runn ing down my face A n d al l the t ime acknowledging That I am as bad as I a m good A s I a m good at be ing bad And I will shed this skin of illusion A n d punch through th is cocoon On ly to f ind my true self Star ing back at me. I've (Em)braced Preamble: This poem, written after my courses, and at a moment of honesty/epiphany, is a comprehensive reflection on all the Jam/have been and as such represents a poetic equivalent of an abstract of this Thesis I've (Em)braced I've (Em)braced Prankster , C o n M a n , L ia r , Lover , H u s b a n d , Father , Tfh) inker(er) , I m poster, Preposterous Ly ing i n judgment ! Yet Somet imes N o t of th is W o r l d A s my eyes ro l l backward and the j a w drops.. . Mys t i c systemic, pathet ic and regretful Keeper of car toon consciousness, M y feet b l is ter on the hyper-heated asphalt O f Weste rn reali ty, I never learn St i l l Mys t i f i ed by the rar i f ied M i rac le of hope(lessness) Fr ightened ch i ld and o ld m a n I a m Penis crossed w i th penance Son of Zor ro and Nosfera tu , (Anti) . . . Char l ie t , I w ish I knew! Saint or s inner , Certa in ly Foo l on the h i l l of the Academy of Power , pol i t ics and lost souls, L i m i n a l Transgressor i n the apor ia of F o u n d and lost (again) I see The oasis or just another mirage?.. . Meanwh i l e the B u d d h a of Compass ion pours Rivers of tears through me as I look at pictures of M y daughter because Somet imes I k n o w To look above mysel f 34 What do I encounter: The Master Frame Preamble: I find it fascinating that our childhood learning, expectations and value structures can either intensify or invalidate our life experience in later years. This notion is examined in a poem that, on the literal level, talks . about me building aplayhouse with my daughter, Emily. The Master Frame Emi l y , W h o is six, Is ha rd at work He lp i ng me bu i l d The f rame of her p layhouse A n d be ing very keen, yet a l l the same Lack ing real experience, we fo l low the p lans Ve ry s lowly and careful ly, check ing the lay of the l and She passes me the w o o d and the s id ing A n d w i th the greatest pa ins, ho lds the beams steady for The Master F rame as I measure and penc i l a n d P o u n d the nai ls in to the wal lboards as wel l as Into the story board of her my th for we ta lk Incessantly and work co-operat ively to raise a structure and A cohesive env i ronment not only out of W o o d and paper and nai ls but of dreams and schemes and Va lues that often prevai l i n my own Maste r F rame Fo r the or ig inal Mas te r F rame that I bu i l t so long ago Has served me wel l as a room wi th a v iew where I've wi tnessed bo th n i rvana and hel l ish t imes, A l though its design has been mod i f ied to re-al ign for Si tuat ions that come a long and b lock the sun and Bar me f rom gleaning the most out of each and every day Y o u see, M y own Maste r F rame Is st i l l a work in progress A n exquisi te game of strategy for Keep ing dry through al l types of inc lement weather A n d now the t ime is r ight to take the strongest beams, Those that have proven themselves again and again, and show them To E m i l y for considerat ion i n the const ruct ion of her o w n Mas te r F rame A n d so Th is new r is ing structure looks r ight for E m i l y W i t h great strength and design so that she cannot outgrow it But can decorate and expose it to the scrut iny o f her f r iends A n d in t ime she too w i l l review and reflect and modi fy Th is structuraTsystem in order to keep dry... I heard about a w o m a n who grew up in a house of r iches f ramed w i th bel iefs O f super ior i ty only to f i nd that a t u rn of events pushed her in to a l i fe of Constant struggle ins ide a new dream w i th a m a n of modest means A n d there she ra ised a fami ly but was never able to return To her or ig ina l H o m e Frame w i th its Af f luence and Connect ions and as a result she d ivorced hersel f F r o m her very own l i fe for she saw her l i fe A s a fa i lure as she cou ld not re-conceive H e r Mas te r F rame to accommodate A different context and So she inva l idated Everything... A n d now as I look w i th wonder and awe A t the mirac le of our s ix-year-o ld daughter I shutter at the thought that we may be bu i l d i ng A sanctuary that cou ld somet ime in the future T u r n into a cell i f we fa i l to construct a tale That is wide enough to a l low her to g row Yet strong enough to protect her f r om the elements A s she seeks to f ind her place and peace in th is wor ld . Big People Preamble: I love the layers of meaning that are found within language. As a kid I used to love to listen to Mae West or later, John Lennon, as they playfully set up word traps constructed out the foibles of the audience's own pre-conceptions and experience. Big People The b ig people I k n o w Come in al l shape and size F r o m ecto to mezzo w i th T iny waists or massive thighs R e d , whi te and b lue, Black, ye l low and me l low F u l l of f ire and wi re A n d often t imes h igher than you or I W i t h both feet on the g round As they j u m p out of bounds. . . * • • '. B ig people eat p izza , guacamole a n d r ice Or strict prote in diets f rom morn ing t i l l n ight Pre-fab nutr ients f rom trans-fat d iners O r natural f resh sl ices of organic types B ig people dr ink scotch, beer, water and Peps i E a r l Grey, w i th m i l k or glasses of sherry A n d al l manner of l i qu id co ld and hot But somet imes not B ig people l ive i n spacious ref inement O r apartment lofts or clut tered homes Somet imes al l a lone in Bars and abandoned cars whi le Others l ive in the i r heads W i t h no bed of s igni f icance A n d no way to get home B ig people often run Through the cracks for the borders and Stay up al l n ight to seize the day because B ig people have great v is ion Even i f they leave thei r glasses at home Fo r they peer through a lens That has been g round and po l ished 37 By years of episodic narrat ives A n d reflective calls and responses That tu rns outward i n A n d i n so out B ig people know you and me Better than most, hav ing c l imbed The mounta ins to reply to the host O f unend ing quest ions that f i l l t hem up They push for answers and Hav ing answered the push They l ive i n 3 -D oppor tun i ty To the po int of f i l l ing this poem W i t h the present, future and past a toned B ig people cannot be bot t led or Labeled, categorized or den ied D ismissed , re-mi f fed or qual i f ied Except by those who miss the boat A s it leaves for adventure is lands remote O h h o w I love b ig people! HowOld? Here 's a l i t t le not ion To reflect on over your A f te rnoon tea, on that ra iny day W h e n the roar of the f i replace and The dance of the f lames pul ls you i n . Fo r as I wa lked my dog on such a day Crazy w i th ra in , I came across A most senior gent leman who, W h e n seeing me, broke into a fit of Deep resounding laughter and sa id , A s we both shared a d rowned moment i n th is pathet ic state, "Th is is r id icu lous weather!" To wh ich H e laughed even harder, eyes spark l ing , A n d as he passed, I wondered to mysel f H o w old are you when you laugh? But real ly, H o w o ld are you when 38 Y o u laugh so deeply that your Who le body lets go A n d your eyes d i a m o n d shine A n d the l ines of your face tu rn upward A n d how o ld are you W h e n you n ibble that chocolate and s i p the wine A n d you f ina l ly grok what The mus ic has been saying a l l a long A s it washes you clean W i t h t ida l force waves of Emot ions and epiphany. H o w o ld are you W h e n you lose a l l t ime at The sunset on the beach W i t h the burs t ing si lence be ing Sp i l led by the lap of the waters O n the logs? H o w o ld are you when you f ina l ly come A n d tel l your lover the t ru th Whatever it is to you O r when you run unt i l You ' re undone and you Break th rough your barr iers to ecstasy? W e un lock the founta in of you th Through our choice of f rames to v iew A l l manner of l i v ing , both past and new. The Goddess of Innovation Preamble: Oh, if only Pcould make my muse visit more often. What fun I could have! The Goddess of Innovation I am mak ing an inv i ta t ion to The goddess of innovat ion to Stop by for tea A l i t t le more often 39 O f course she is very busy W i t h her own var ious activi t ies A n d I k n o w some h o w by saying I'm needy, I'm be ing a l i t t le greedy F o r the mi racu lous insp i ra t ion She is offer ing A n d i f she does arr ive It's usual ly a surpr ise and I don' t always sense her presence Jus t that colors seem br ight A n d the f low is total ly r ight A n d new ideas pop for th f rom m y essence A n d as we dr ink our tea A l l manner of art istry Is i n t u rn affected. W h y we muse about art, Wr i t i ng , mus ic and dance A n d l i fe i tsel f as a canvas Wa i t i ng to be perfected A n d as I relax, I know she is r ight I just get i n my own way Fo r the t r ick is to open the door A n d a l low her to explore wi thout B lock ing or cont ro l l ing her stay A n d that's easier sa id than done Fo r the mind 's rascal monkey for one Is always ta lk ing and tak ing cont ro l But the goddess needs plenty of r o o m To create such a tune That 's or ig ina l and fu l l of soul A n d the monkey w i l l pretend to Be asleep in order to sneak a peek A t the awe- insp i r ing beauty of the goddess But she can sense h i m through h is process A n d she w i l l fade away g lowing Fo r t ry ing to conta in her i n logic's bounds Is as hopeless as pu l l ing vegetables out of the g round To see how wel l they're growing But I am always thankfu l for A n y v is i ta t ion, no matter how short A n d every day I do ra in dances A s an invocat ion to abort A n y drought that may occur F r o m being far too busy To real ize al l the energy A n d boundless fert i le creat iv i ty that Comes f rom a quiet tea W i t h the goddess The Hust ler (a.k.a.), And What Would You Do? Preamble: This light-hearted narrative deals with the serious issues of teaching ethics and power structures within an educational organization " C o m e i n , M i c h a e l . " A s I entered, I was surpr ised to f i nd B i l l s tanding up-away f rom h is desk. M y heartbeat doub led. I always found it harder to talk to my pr inc ipa l when he was s tanding, for h is enormous ly tal l f rame and sheer physical i ty always in fo rmed the outcome of our conversat ions. Indeed, I often felt pat ron ized i n the si lence before the words, l i ke a l i t t le boy asking h is daddy for a favor. But here was a m a n who wi l l fu l ly p layed his physical currency to the extant that I wou ld buy i n . So I b raced mysel f and looked in to the h igh noon eyes of th is sur ly J o h n Wayne . A n d as I looked, I reflected on the fact that B i l l , a l though he was wel l in to his fifty's, was st i l l a keen rugby player, barf ly, chauvin ist , and s t i ckman whose w o u l d -be role as a cowboy of the new front ier sp i l led over l i ke a glass of home-brewed whiskey in to his professional l i fe. A n d of that l i fe, B i l l had moved qu ick ly f rom be ing a P . E . teacher to an admin is t ra tor and , u l t imate ly to an assistant super intendent . Bu t due to the recent and severe cutbacks i n the distr ict , he was b u m p e d as his job was col lapsed. A n d so, l ike a s leeping gr izzly that had been 41 disturbed, Bill grumpily accepted the demotion of a principalship at our school. It was either that or face the cold winter of a job search. Today, as I entered his office/den, I was in crisis. Roger, the head of the P.E. department was emboldened by Bill's appointment to our school and thrust a new offensive against me in our long war about evening gym privileges. Earlier that morning, in a small committee meeting that was dealing with the timetable, he hissed that basketball games and practices had been booked for all of December and that there would be no room on any evening for a Christmas concert. I was too shocked to say "But it's only September-can't you alter the schedule and give me one night?" In reality, the power and finality of Roger's tone and trump collapsed any chance of negotiation. I turned to John, our Vice Principal and whispered, "This is crazy. We have to have a Christmas concert!" Ron acquiesced silently with his "I'm not getting involved" look and shrugged his shoulders. Now, with my visit to Bill, I was escalating the issue. As I walked up to his door, I mentally reviewed the points I wanted to make to Bill. I started with a story about the long tradition of Christmas concerts at our school. But before I had completed the first sentence, Bill waved a big paw to cut me off and another to shoo me out, angrily barking that he was going to have to make a decision and that was that! That was that? Obviously, John had mentioned the issue to him-which was fine as far as I was concerned. But I wanted a chance to be heard. I Wanted to pitch the importance of the concert. Did he, as principal, not have to at least give me a little say in this matter? 42 I was on p ins and needles for two days. Then , the dec is ion came down . I w o u l d get m y concert on its annua l date. Odd ly , I was to ld of th is not by the admin is t ra t ion team, but by a nutrasweet Roger, who c losed by qu ipp ing , " N o h a r d feel ings, eh?" Even though I had " w o n " this batt le, I felt d ra ined and angry. W h a t cou ld I do to remedy this s i tuat ion? A n d then it dawned on me. It was br i l l ian t i n its s impl ic i ty and it gave me a new energy. Dawn ing my v i r tua l boots and spurs, I " rode" in to B i l l ' s office w i th an Ach i l les ' hunch and a double-barre led att i tude Eas twood for I knew that B i l l was a b ig fan of country and western mus ic . " B i l l , I know this may seem w i l d , but I not iced h o w r ich your voice is. W h a t do th ink about you and me per fo rming a song together? I th ink it wou ld be so great to have you s ing a song in the Chr is tmas concert. W e cou ld do a count ry song. In fact, I cou ld probably put a whole b a n d together to back you up . Th i nk about h o w posi t ively the k ids wou ld react at seeing thei r p r inc ipa l s ing ing w i th a b a n d ? " " W e l l , M i chae l , I've always loved J o h n n y C a s h , " he expla ined. I had h i m . " B i l l , that 's a great idea! W i l l i a m , i n the science department is a good d r u m m e r a n d J o h n wants to play bass. I'll pu l l i n m y brother so that we can have b laz ing telecasters, and , oh yes, Char l ie in d r a m a can p lay some great honky- tonk p iano. Fever ishly, I worked to assemble the members of the band . W e had a rehearsal or two to lock in to " F o l s o m Pr i son B lues" and then inv i ted B i l l to at tend. For tunate ly , B i l l sang in tune (sort of) and , more impor tant ly sang in t ime. I had fool ish ly assumed that he cou ld cut the gig. I made a menta l note to t r ick future admin is t rator-s ingers in to an in fo rmal assessment before commi t t ing to a project and I thanked the gods for th is current round of grace. 43 O n the night of the Chr is tmas concert, B i l l was extremely nervous. I sensed that he w o u l d back out. " B i l l , why don' t you come out f irst as Santa, and th row out some candy whi le the back-up band plays someth ing fun . Then , after a few " H o - H o ' s " y o u can come up to the m ic and s ing your song. The k ids w i l l love it. Af ter the concert I Can leak out that Santa was p layed by y o u ! " (Desperately, I was t ry ing to f igure out a way to increase B i l l ' s comfor t as I knew that the Santa suit and beard wou ld pu l l down the intensi ty of the per formance). B i l l felt better. B i l l ' s moment came at the ha l f way mark of the second set. The teacher band f i red up an ins t rumenta l vers ion of " F o l s o m , " complete w i th scorch ing solos. Santa B i l l burst i n through a cur ta in l ike a B r a h m a bu l l at a rodeo. H e ran in to the bleachers and tossed h is candy canes to the screaming k ids a n d came crash ing back to s ing his song. Then , it happened somewhere in the second verse. B i l l lost h imse l f to the fun of per formance. H e started d igging in -b lossoming r ight before our eyes. The c rowd, who had pretty wel l f igured out who Santa was, went w i l d w i th approva l . B i l l , revel ing in th is newfound power, began to improv ise and to ld me to take another solo. W e rocked the house down and then he " rode" out of town. B i l l had an ep iphany that night. Indeed, th rough a crazy tu rn of events, th is o ld dog had learned a new t r ick - the power and joy of per forming. The band was also happy w i th the success of the show. Consequent ly , we kept the band together and made cameos at many other concerts. W e even wrote B i l l a cameo in our mus ica l . The k ids at school loved it, but more impor tant ly , B i l l absolutely loved 44 per fo rming and qu ick ly real ized great value in the arts. I t h ink that it u l t imate ly overtook his long- t ime love of sports. M y f r iend, M iche l le , was a distr ict level admin is t ra tor at the t ime. M iche l l e is a wonder fu l singer and keyboardist and has a soft spot for the pl ight of mus ic teachers and fragi le mus ic programs. Bu t she was appal led at my act ions. "It was ethical ly wrong to manipu la te B i l l and the school l ike that," she compla ined . I felt uneasy at the suggest ion of compromised integri ty. I exp la ined to her that the school distr ict 's (government induced) f inanc ia l hardsh ips po l i t ic ized al l act ions. Con t inu ing threats to my program had forced me to consider these manipu la t ive act ions. But I felt uneasy at the suggest ion of compromised integri ty. I d idn ' t l ike do ing them but felt that I had l i t t le choice. Indeed, I d i d them to preserve my program, for I bel ieved then and now that the study of mus ic is of great value to so many ch i ld ren and one night 's use of the gym was reasonable request. W a s I w rong in my act ions? I k n o w that B i l l cont inued to s ing, after he ret i red, and he also took lessons to learn the harmon ica . Perhaps, i n the end, B i l l was just another student of m ine who grew, a long w i th m y students, th rough the power of per forming. Certa in ly , he learned what I want a l l my students to learn , wh ich is a l i fe long love and apprec iat ion of mus ic . In the end , I'm not sure i f the pressure of surv iva l just i f ied my response. I used the same tact ic for other pr inc ipa ls after B i l l , though I am not present ly do ing this. Th is issue makes me reflect on the words of the Amer i can "ph i losopher , " Theodor Ge ise l , who also examined the issues df author i ty and integri ty: 45 Then our mother came i n A n d she sa id to us two, " D i d you have any fun? Te l l me. W h a t d id you d o ? " A n d Sal ly and I d i d not k n o w W h a t to say. Shou ld we tel l her The th ings that went on there that day? Shou ld we tel l her about i t? N o w , what S H O U L D we do? Wel l . . . W h a t w o u l d Y O U do If your mother asked you? (Seuss, 1957 , p. 6 0 ) The Hi-fi M y f irst exposure to mus ic happened when I was four years o ld . M y fami ly had just moved to Mon t rea l after many years on the prair ies. M y D a d worked for the Fi restone Rubber & T i re Company . In those days, F i restone t ire stores had a retai l annex that dabbled w i th many var ious househo ld products - a concept that has been expanded and successful ly u t i l ized i n Canada by the Canad ian T i re Corpora t ion . One cou ld f ind b ig i tems, l ike freezers, washers and dryers as wel l as sma l l house ware i tems l ike toasters and enter ta inment products l ike radios and record players. There was even a smal l toy sect ion. M y D a d , as manager of th is store, was able to buy i tems at a special employee discount rate. One day, he arr ived home w i th some help to load i n an enormous crate. W h a t cou ld i t be? W e already had a T V . A s it turns out, he had purchased what I recal l as the most advanced record player money cou ld buy. 46 It was a huge, command ing piece of furn i ture and a th ing of enormous beauty. The massive rectangular cabinet was made of a s tunn ing l ight exotic wood that had been sanded, varn ished and po l ished to accentuate the mul t i -co lored gra in . M y four-year-o ld b ra in wou ld s ink deep into the th ree-d imens iona l h i l l s and val leys of this wood . The entire f ront of the cabinet was st rewn w i th a wondrous mul t i -co lo red speaker gr i l l c loth that had golden threads that t ied together w i th the gra in patterns. In the late af ternoon, when the sun was just beg inn ing to pour in to our l i v ing r o o m w indow, I wou ld be able to " look th rough" this gr i l l c loth at a circ le and a rectangle that were normal ly h idden by the colours in the c loth. The circ le was where the enormous speaker was attached. The rectangle beside it was a large port to a l low bass frequencies to emit -c lear ly a revolut ionary idea for 1957. . The top of the record player opened up to reveal its secrets. I had to s tand on my t iptoes to look inside. To the left was the actual turntable. Be ing such an advanced mode l , it had four speed sett ings. A l o n g w i th the popu lar 33 - r pm for long-p lay ing records and 4 5 - r p m for singles, it wou ld also p lay at 7 8 - r p m for o lder discs. A n d , it even had a 16 - rpm sett ing. I never saw a record for that speed. I often wondered i f it was just there for the future when discs might double thei r long-p lay abi l i ty. M y father expla ined that the hooked device that hovered above the platter was a feature that a l lowed the l istener to stack many records so that the turntable cou ld automat ical ly "d rop" and p lay a new disc when the fo rmer d isc f in ished. M i rac le of mirac les, our new record player entertained us for hours at a t ime. 47 O n the r ight hand side was the cont ro l panel for the ampl i f ier . A decal on the inside read " H i - f i " wh i ch my father expla ined meant "h igh f idel i ty sound . I w o u l d put my hands on th is area to feel the wa rmth f rom the vacuum tubes that ampl i f ied and shaped the tone. N o w , as an aside, I must tel l you that my mother comes f r om the vi l lage of Moors ide , just outside of O l d h a m , wh ich is, i n tu rn , just a few mi les f rom Manchester Eng land . H e r tastes and her l i fe cont inue to be one of pol i te conservat ism and car ing w i th her mot to be ing "everyth ing in modera t ion . " M y father, however, is Hungar ian . H i s fami ly immigra ted to the Canad ian prair ies in the late 1920's after h is father dec ided that the pol i t ics of thei r home land was changing. Regina p rov ided a scruffy, tough existence i n the 1930's, what w i th the ghettoized l i v ing of scores of eastern European fami l ies struggl ing to survive the crash of the economy as we l l as the b l is ter ing hot, drought r idden summers and deep-freeze winters. Unc le F rank taught my dad the rud iments and repertoire of v io l in p lay ing. The young boy was also enro l led in a mando l i n orchestra, where, for 50 cents a mon th , you were loaned a mando l i n and received a weekly lesson a long w i th rehearsals of the large ensemble. A l l th rough h igh schoo l , my D a d and his b a n d played many styles of popu lar and ethnic mus ic for al l types of commun i t y celebrat ions, weddings, and dances. Canada's entry into W o r l d W a r II, however, took h i m far away f rom h is v io l i n . A f the war 's end he returned a changed man who had mar r ied and brought h is Eng l i sh br ide back to Canada. Af ter h is re turn , he d i d not p ick up the v io l in for forty years. 48 N o w , w i th the purchase of the H i - f i , my D a d had an oppor tun i ty to re-visi t to mus ic of h is youth . O n many an evening, when he ar r ived home f rom work, m y D a d w o u l d load up our magni f icent new record player w i th wonder fu l recordings of the mus ic of Eastern Europe . A s wel l as p lay ing the w i l d gypsy mus ic of Hungary , he w o u l d play Russ ian gypsy, R o m a n i a n gypsy and Jew ish fo lk music . I w i l l never forget the huge, incredib le sound that our new H i - f i cou ld generate. It was s imp ly overwhelming. No th ing had ever sounded so good, so l o u d and so thunderous. Its tonal possibi l i t ies seemed endless. D a d w o u l d s imp ly c rank up the bass and it was as i f the bass player h imse l f had just entered the r o o m ! It was th is huge sound, comb ined w i th Dad 's choice of p lay ing gypsy mus ic , that made me lose total cont ro l . The passionate v io l in p lay ing f looded the room w i th heavy emot ion . It seemed that every song started w i th a s low, heart-wrench ing open ing. Th is was fo l lowed by a gentle accompan iment of moderate tempo. Then , the band wou ld suddenly start to accelerate, p lay ing faster and faster un t i l the melody and the band wou ld peak at the c l imax and crash to a most s t i r r ing and exuberant ending. Sorrow, revolut ion, and t r iumphant resolut ion—the heroic Eu ropean way! M y emot ions and body were k idnapped and forced to r ide this sonic ro l ler coaster. It was as i f the mus ic cou ld somehow charge up my whole system. Perhaps we cou ld b lame it on my genetics, but , for whatever reason, th is mus ic found its way to the very core of my being. It just about drove me crazy. I wou ld s lowly sway to the mourn fu l open ing theme, (there is always sor row in any gypsy piece of mer i t ) , and then, uncontro l lab ly , I wou ld have to dance as the tempo accelerated. I was t ransformed in to a marionette and the mus ic was the master puppeteer. A s the 4 9 band wou ld rocket to a "Pres to" tempo I wou ld be forced to run , non-s top, i n circles th rough the rooms of the house. Th is crazy puppet dance w o u l d cont inue unt i l the t r iumphant f in ish had me col laps ing into a chair , breathless and sweat ing profusely. Th is explosive release of k inet ic passion was consistent ly d rawn f r om me by the H i - f i w i th its gypsy music . Other types of mus ic never took a h o l d of me i n the same way, unt i l the Beatles broke, many years later. The H i - f i stayed w i th the fami ly for 30 years, fa i thfu l ly sp inn ing its mus ica l spel ls un t i l my aging parents downs ized to an apartment. A l t hough it had long become obsolete w i th the in t roduct ion and ref inement of stereo sound , nei ther m y brother, nor mysel f wanted to let go of the magic mach ine. W h e n it was t ime to j unk the mach ine, I removed the top f rom its hinges and used it to b u i l d a baff le for m y ampl i f ier . In th is way I l ike to th ink that I have a l i t t le bi t of the magic w i th me. Cur ious ly , my parents never, ever breathed a wo rd to me about th is exorc ism of feel ings and adrenal , wh i ch cont inued, unabated for years. I, i n t u rn , never to ld them of how invo luntary the process was. I often wonder i f my becoming a professional mus ic ian and a mus ic teacher may be in part due to the st rong sonic voodoo that the H i - f i cast W i t h every nuance of the gypsy's bow. Lessons from the Piano It has been six weeks now, since E m i l y started Grade 1 and group p iano lessons. Rosemary , my wife, usual ly meets E m i l y after school . W h a t w i th fu l l t ime teaching and m y course at U B C , I can only p ick -up my daughter on Wednesdays. O n these nights, her m o m usual ly stays late at work and then attends a workout or 50 dance class, so it has come to pass that Wednesdays prov ide a special t ime together for E m i l y and I. E m i l y has spel l ing and p iano homework a lmost every night. In order to prov ide a break in the rout ine and to have more fun i n the learn ing, I ask E m i l y teach me what she has learned on the p iano. Th is twist prov ides E m i l y an oppor tun i ty to verbal ize her learn ing and cr i t ical ly observe my react ion and unders tand ing of it. It also al lows her a chance to experience the power o f te l l ing someone what to do, thereby break ing the monotony of fo l lowing ru les-someth ing that my 6 year o ld has to do most of the day. So far, I've been able to keep up w i th the cu r r i cu lum prov ided through the lessons. E m i l y has proved to be a good teacher, w i th a keen eye for technique. "Keep al l your l ingers on the keys—even your t humb ! " She catches me when I slack. She teaches me about F i r eman F red and the D inosaur Den . W e take turns p lay ing F and D on the p iano. A t the end of the lesson we close up our books. O u r next act ivi ty w i l l be a spel l ing review of the words on the F r iday d ic tat ion. "Wha t does th is spe l l?" E m i l y has not iced the p iano maker 's name on the inst rument . "It says Ba ldw in . Ba ldw in is the name of the company that made th is p iano. Y o u cou ld th ink of this name as a compound wo rd made of two smal ler words-ba ld and w in , " I answer. E m i l y beats me upstai rs to the k i tchen table where we pract ice our F rench spel l ing. I l inger beh ind , c leaning up. E m i l y has just started to compose and wri te short sentences. She w i l l do this for fun and to get a verbal stroke f rom her p roud father. Ton ight she neatly pr in ts out a three-word sentence for my praise and del ight. It even inc luded a new word . "He re , D a d . " I took the paper f r o m h e r hand to read the words " D a d is B a l d . " 51 "Thank you so much , " I sa id , t ry ing to keep my face i n a neutra l state of react ion. " W e certainly had interest ing lesson f rom the p iano tonight ." E m i l y smi led , Sunday at the Art Gallery It's Sunday and our l i t t le house is f i l led w i th the sounds of young voices. E m i l y has had her f r iend, Tamara , stay for a "s leep-over." Tamara is ta l l for her seven years. H e r fa i r sk in and freckles compl iment her long , soft, co rn s i lk ha i r . A p lac id demeanor bel ies the energetic rascal underneath . Tamara never spoke for the f irst two years of her l i fe-she just observed. But now there is no s topp ing her, i n ei ther Eng l i sh or F rench . E m i l y w o u l d love it i f Tamara were her sister. The gir ls h a d stayed up late last night i n g iddy revelry. Rose a n d I h a d hoped that they wou ld sleep i n . No t a chance! By 6:40, they were already deeply at work in thei r play. I admi re how ch i ld ren can get to close to each other i n such a short t ime. M y m o m wou ld describe them as be ing " th ick as th ieves" for it is as i f thei r l ives depend on thei r mutua l trust to pu l l of thei r fantasy constructs and conspiracies of l i t t le gir l anarchy. I th ink about how long it takes me to fo rm f r iendships now. M idd le -aged people are, i n general , so caut ious and set. It takes an investment o f t ime to peel off the layers of protect ion to get to thei r hearts, whereas the gir ls immedia te ly connect. A n d the extended t ime of th is visi t has a l lowed their game p lay ing to spread f rom the downsta i rs p lay room to Emi l y ' s bedroom and now to the upstai rs l i v ing room. In fact, indoor tents have been foisted next to m y favori te chair . 52 Lucy, our l i t t le dog, searches for a bi t of sofa to cur l up on . It has been converted to a t rendy apartment loft for a group of stuffed teddy bears that are wear ing sunglasses. The temptat ion for Lucy is unbearable. Sma l l toys, l i ke the Po l ly pocket col lect ion are w i th in reach. Lucy loves to gnaw the feet off these l i t t le dol ls—to the abject hor ro r of E m i l y , whose imag inat ion has breathed l i fe in to these styl ized po lymers. The smel l of F rench toast and coffee pu l l a l l of us in to the k i tchen. It is mango season i n lands far away and Rose has bought a Case for six dol lars. W e feast on mango and strawberr ies before the newly found recipe for F rench toast. Rose is t ry ing to emulate a recipe that Tamara 's m o m makes for her. Tamara asks for more. Af ter breakfast, we announce our in tent ions to v is i t the art gal lery w i th the two gir ls. The gir ls counter w i th thei r d isappo in tment that thei r game w i l l have to stop. (At th is point , the gir ls are ready to p lay the game forever and for Tamara to permanent ly move in to facil i tate this.) They p lead for the game to cont inue. W e counter by exp la in ing the special features of what the A r t Ga l le ry marketers describe as " F a m i l y Sunday," a once a mon th event where the gal lery becomes a "hands -on " experience for its younger v is i tors. A n d besides, we exp la in , the A r t Gal lery is on the way back to Tamara 's home and her parents are hop ing to see her again. Once the gir ls grok the real i ty that the visi t has an end ing, we al l work at the tedious process of c leaning up and gett ing into the car. The car r ide is non-descr ip t as we travel to the musica l musings of Char lot te D i a m o n d 53 W e f i nd the parkade located under the o ld Eaton 's bu i ld ing . The br ight sunshine fai ls to overcome the co ld ch i l l of a February day in Vancouver . For tunate ly, the o ld law courts bu i ld ing , wh ich now houses the art gal lery is on ly a few short steps away. The art gal lery is w a r m and inv i t ing and total ly prepared for us. The f irst f loor has a special show on photography. The o ld photos have been f ramed and hung l ike pictures. Some photos are so o ld and fragi le that they are covered w i th a l ight-b lock ing fabr ic that you l ift for v iewing. It is a w indow to the pas t -CSA approved t ime-t ravel . One part of the exhibi t showed a series of 1 9 t h century photos of a moose hunt . A s we looked closer, we real ized that a l l the pictures i n th is series w rere staged. L i ke a movie set, these early photographers h a d created phony backdrops to create the i l lus ion of be ing out i n the wi lds of Canada. These cont ro l led si tuat ions a l lowed the photographers to use their bu lky and s low cameras w i thout the wor ry ing about changes i n l ight ing or weather. Apparent ly , th is series and others l ike it were used in Br i t i sh magazines to in fo rm Br i t i sh readers of l i fe i n the colonies. A n art gal lery volunteer quiet ly walks up. She asks, " W o u l d the gir ls l ike to make one?" The gal lery has created a l i t t le area where each ch i ld can construct a smal l mode l of a photo shoot. The ch i ld p icks a min ia ture backdrop and f igur ines for the t iny scene. Each scene is decorated w i th t iny trees and tools. It reminds me of the scenes that I used to construct as a boy w i th Gran t E m m s ' min ia ture rai lway. The gir ls work fur iously at thei r composi t ions. It has to be just r ight, for once it is constructed, one Po la ro id snapshot w i l l be taken as a souvenir . 54 Th is learn ing /p lay al lows the gir ls to experience what went into these pictures whi le Rose and I take turns v iewing hundreds of magni f icent pictures. I love the stories that the pictures te l l . There are some wonder fu l portrai ts of var ious characters f rom the Canad ian past. Great portra i t photos seem to sp i l l over w i th the att i tude and values of the part ic ipants. The revelatory nature of these photos reminds me of when , as a young m a n I went to take a picture of a fa rm laborer i n Morocco . H e stopped me before I cou ld snap and to ld me that he d i d not w ish to lose his sou l to the camera. N o w , many years later, I concur w i th h i m . If a photographer has the talent to wait un t i l the r ight moment , it does seem possib le to capture more than the ref lect ion of l ight of an ind iv idua l . I love the " t ru th" that I f i nd look ing into the eyes o f ' "unmasked" subjects. In another room of photos, l a m in t r igued a n d del ighted to t ravel back to A m e r i c a i n the 1 9 4 0 ' s and Ind ia in the late 1 9 t h century. The pictures of west coast F i rs t Nat ions peoples f rom the tu rn of the 2 0 t h century make me run back to Rose to tel l her about some portrai ts of native women . Bu t there is no t ime to show her. E m i l y and Tamara have both completed the i r min ia ture photo sets and an art gal lery volunteer is tak ing a Po la ro id of each Creation. Each gi r l watches the magic of the instant photo as it changes f rom a reddish haze to a crystal clear picture i n a few minutes. W i l l someone look at these pictures w i th Curiosity somet ime in the future? Look ing for more adventure, the four of us end up on the top f loor of the gallery. Th is f loor i s devoted to the work of E m i l y Carr . I am so pleased because I real ly have never taken a good look at her work. So often, we miss some of the f inest work avai lable, just because it is loca l . In a wor ld of intense market ing, some 55 of us have developed b l inders and f i l ters to works that are not p romoted i n certa in ways. A s we arr ive by escalator at the top f loor, we are greeted w i th an overs ized picture of the art ist i n her later years. E m i l y Car r projects the essence of a shaman or a Buddh is t priest. H e r eyes are deep and independent and sh inn ing w i th energy f rom both the present and the inf in i te. A s we enter the presentat ion area, these words are wr i t ten on the wa l l : "...enter in to the l i fe of trees, k n o w your re la t ionship and unders tand thei r language, unspoken , unwr i t ten ta lk" (Carr , 1966, p. 30). Seeing her work , you k n o w that E m i l y Car r d i d indeed become pro found ly at one w i th the forest. I was pu l led in to the trees and the canopies of green. It makes me reflect on Peter E lbow 's " theory of vo ice" i n l i terary wr i t ing (E lbow 1998). E l b o w believes that a wr i ter must be total ly " i n " and " o f any experience i n order to wr i te powerfu l ly and conv inc ing ly about it. I f i nd more wr i t ing on the wa l l . "Peop le said, " E x p l a i n the pictures." But how can one expla in sp i r i t? " (Carr , 1966, p. 179) Whi l e these words th row me in to yet a deeper level , I see that Rose has our E m i l y and Tamara work ing hard in the hands-on area. The i r chal lenge is f i rst to f i nd , w i th in the E m i l y Car r works , a landscape w i th swi r l ing skies; then a scene where trees that create a path and f inal ly to discover close up and far away views. T h e n they are asked to sketch a favori te Car r landscape. Th is sketch is morphed in to a pastel d rawing that the gal lery laminates. E m i l y and Tamara now have there own d inner place mats, a la Carr . W e are now runn ing out of t ime. Through the pedagogical w i sdom of the art gal lery, Tamara and E m i l y have been in t roduced to the wo r l d of photographic art and the sub l ime art istry of E m i l y Carr . Rose and I are bo th energized and insp i red . 56 In the car again, the l i t t le gir ls m u n c h quiet ly on goodies for the p icn ic that we ran out of t ime for. W e drop Tamara off and say goodbye. Bo th gir ls cry a bi t . It is ha rd to break the bond—two voices as one. W e attempt to make E m i l y feel better by rem ind ing her that she w i l l be seeing Tamara in two weeks for a t r ip to the bal let. There is no consol ing her w i th logic. I reflect that E m i l y always wrestles w i th t ransi t ions f rom one activi ty to another. It seems that we are always in ter rupt ing her. I feel compass ion for her. It is such a tough lesson. I th ink about our f r iends in Abbo ts fo rd and their new banner that is moun ted on a door i n thei r house. It s imp ly and pro found ly reads: "Lea rn to l ive ; learn to love; learn to let go." 3. What do I create? High Wire Guitar Put t ing your foot out you feel the wire Before you walk on water A n d though you are very h igh In the stratosphere, there is no Net and certainly no tu rn ing back, On ly tu rn ing i nward as you Complete ly relax, O h m M a n i Padme H u m , A n d unconsc ious ly a l ign and poise Y o u r m i n d , body and soul In absolute concentrat ion To let out your voice f rom The deepest pit of your spir i t A s only the way you can W h i l e the rest of the universe Looks over your shoulders A n d f loats you up in a Sea of teardrops f rom The B u d d h a of compass ion A n d in the b l is ter ing wh i r l i ng of the spheres Y o u tune into its tautness, 57 Its f requency and th ickness U n t i l there is no separat ion Th rough s to rm and st i l l You are... Y o u r extension and If a l l manner of th ings have Locked themselves in to The most sacred pat tern W h e n the sun makes love to the m o o n A n d the t ides ro l l backward to reveal Anc ien t sh ipwrecks and cit ies O f so long ago, yet you k n o w A n d the how l of the wo l f Becomes an ar ia of unspeakable beauty... T h e n you are ready On Music Class after a Sleepless Night Preamble: Teaching beginners' band is a daunting task, even at the best of times. I find that it requires enormous amounts of patience and fast thinking to make it a success. In 1998, after a decade of successful teaching, I now encountered a new set of challenges to my career with the arrival of a baby girl. Emily provided us with immeasurable happiness and fulfillment. Emily was not able, however, to sleep through the night. She would call out loudly to us for food or attention. Friends told us to be happy about this, knowing that the frequent calls probably meant that Emily had a very active brain. Now I know that many Dads can sleep through this kind of sound, but I found that every time Emily called out, my adrenal glands would fire and my heart would race, leaving me totally awake. After 10 months of this, both Rose and I were wrecks. It started to affect my work. My patience dwindled, as did my energy levels. In this state of exhaustion, I found that the first five minutes of class, when the children are warming up, to be the most challenging. Here is a light-hearted poem on the subject of losing your mind before the class has even started. On Music Class after a Sleepless Night Lazy sounds, crazy sounds, Deep f rom a bed of morn ing si lence They b l oom In al l shapes and sizes, Sounds of brass, sounds electr ic, sounds pathet ic F r o m o ld reeds and mo ldy reeds and 58 Mis - reads of mus ic w i th Cases bang ing and mus ic stands c langing A n d young voices laugh ing and al l of this Speaking to me through al l manner of tongue unt i l . . . The growl ing, howl ing , crashing, and c lashing O f these fragments o f f requency and emot ion In this l u m p y sonic mass hi ts Its cr i t ical point of no re turn and morphs Into one h ideous mul t i - tendr i l led enti ty That cont inues to expand and Feed off b lack hole recesses un t i l It suddenly lashes out at me, Knock ing me senseless w i th Unbearab le d issonance and decibels That moves to destabi l ize m y very f rame O f ca lm and detached profess ional ism (?) I scramble to pad m y ears and Grab my baton whi le I Ca l l for the Force and the Gods of Reason. W a l k i n g out of m y office I tap twice on the mus ic s tand, ra is ing my h a n d whi le Pray ing that the a l ien i n my room W i l l hear m y cal l and sense m y in tent ion and W i l l fa i l to detect m y b luf f A n d that my sheer magni tude of conv ic t ion W i l l dissipate this ent i ty back to A bed of si lence so that the seeds of Focus, cohesion, grace, and beauty M a y take root and once again Retu rn us to a garden of symphony. How Do You Determine? Preamble: This poem stems from a meeting with a UBC music professor with whom I was having lunch. I recall asking him about a Master's program. All his responses indicated that I had asked an "illegitimate" question-one that I should already know the answer to. As I reflect on this incident, I know that I learned a lot. I leaimed that I would never want to speak like this to a student. On the back of my door in my office is written "Act Neutral on the Obvious!" This is to remind me that, regardless of what I think of any question posed to me, I will endeavor to respond in a caring, supportive, and professional manner. After all, it took me 15 years to return to UBC. 59 How Do You Determine? H o w do you determine In your pos i t ion of power If the question put to you Is wor thy of an answer? That is to say, A s s u m i n g that the quest ioner is C o m i n g f rom a space of c lean in tent ion, H o w do you differentiate between the ins ight fu l and The p lodd ing H o w do you (dare) do... i t? Is there some special h ierarchy, A Mas low 's l ist towards a peak experience quest ion That al lows a value to be attached as an immed ia te precursor to the answer? H o w often do you hear the phrase "Great Quest ion"? H o w is that so? A r e quest ions great that have no answer? Or are they s imp ly great as segues i n a per formance? Let me now ask: Have you been bereted after ask ing someth ing That seemed total ly reasonable to ask? I have. " W e l l , obviously, you wou ld do th is , " H e be l lowed, h is tone and body Eng l i sh D r ipp ing w i th d ismiss ive scorn. A=B; B=C; therefore, A=C Isn't it in t r igu ing how the wo rd " O b v i o u s l y " cues the questioner That the quest ion is d u m b and therefore, The quest ioner must "obviously" be dumb . A n d of course, th is poor ly constructed quest ion A n d its c rush ing response leads me to M a n y more s i l ly quest ions about the responder, l i ke : Where in his experience d id he adapt th is response? 60 Learned o r invented, I ask? D i d his mother or father treat h i m l ike this? O r is it a way for h i m To fend off h is concerns about H i s own insecur i t ies i n general , O r perhaps to vent h is own specif ic anger That was generated F r o m a l lowing h imse l f to be i n a pos i t ion Where he had to dance w i th fools such as me? Certa in ly , I felt s tup id for ask ing because I had fool ish ly assumed. . . That he was wiser than that. This Day in the Life Preamble: One of my continuing goals in this course is to learn how to address educational issues through a relaxed, yet informative narrative style that honors the importance of context in understanding of human issues. "This Day in the Life" reveals of a lot of my own values and philosophy on the art and science of teaching. The reflections and ruminations are strung together through the "scaffolding" of a typical day. The introduction gives the reader a general feeling of the start of a typical day. The middle of the narrative can be thought of as a reflection of past challenges of the profession. The final portion of the narrative moves into a reflection on the process of mentoring. It's the green-labeled key that opens th is door. I had to resort to co lour cod ing as every area has its own key. A s I enter the p i tch-b lack r o o m , I t u n e in to its character. It feels airy, ambient and a l i t t le cool th is morn ing i n par t icu lar . I a m always struck by its eerie magni tude. In the intense b lackness, I edge toward the f irst step. There are 21 steps downwards into th is chasm. Once I f i nd the f irst step, I conf ident ly descend in to the p i tch , l is tening to the room echo back m y soft steps as i f it were gently compla in ing about be ing st i r red so early i n the morn ing . 61 M o s t of these morn ings in the winter , I s leepwalk down the stairs and th rough th is cavernous b lack hole as I always have for the last 19 years. It is jus t another rout ine that my subconscious leads me through. I even once took E m i l y th rough th is route. She was not impressed. But on the odd morn ing , when I am w i th myself , I marve l at m y own fear lessness/ fool ishness at shuf f l ing b l ind ly down these bannister less, open stairs, whose pa in ted concrete is equal ly as unforg iv ing to a fa l l as the inv is ib le ha rd w o o d bleachers that neighbor the stairs. I s t i l l have to count the steps though, as the d rop f rom the 2 1 s t step to the f loor is a lmost twice the size- someth ing that we w o u l d natura l ly adjust to when we have sight references. Once on the f loor, I leave the enormous un l i t gym to re turn to its early morn ing sleep. Soon it w i l l be teeming w i th an a rmy of basketbal l Jones and its a i r w i l l be d isp laced w i th vol leys of rubber bal ls that are a imed at i ts baskets. I exist by a side door, and a m once again outside. Af ter a few steps, I enter another smal ler , dark edif ice. Th i s room, my c lassroom, has a few nor thern facing w indows that a l low in the pre-dawn sky so navigat ing it is m u c h easier. W i thou t tu rn ing on the l ights I un lock my office, take off my coat and shoes and prop up m y posture on the smal l sofa by my desk. O m M a n i Padme H u m . Th is office is a t iny w indowed room on the southeast corner of the mus ic portable. The pre-dawn l ight is so poor , that I can hard ly d iscern the contents o f the many f ramed photos that festoon the four wal ls. Pictures of my Rose and E m i l y hang next to pictures of my guitar col lect ion and pictures of fo rmer students, band 62 t r ips and mus ica l product ions. They al l feed the room energy and att i tude. E a c h one tel ls a story i n my l i fe. Of course, there is the obl igatory computer on m y large oak desk. Next to it are pi les of miscel laneous papers to be read a n d tended to. It is messy. In m y nineteen years as a mus ic teacher, I have never had even one day where I left the bu i ld ing feel ing that I had answered al l the var ious ma i l and was fu l ly prepped for the next day. Af ter so many hours , I just leave. I hate this level of mediocr i ty , but I am more fearful of los ing my l i fe to this job . I know that teaching is one of the greatest and most impor tan t jobs one cou ld do. But through the lens of a more cynica l context, I've watched career teachers pour thei r soul in to this learn ing commun i ty , on ly to f i nd themselves as strangers to the bu i l d ing and its inhabi tants w i th in a very few years of ret i rement. The system gobbles them up , squeezing out the ju ices of thei r insp i ra t ion and compass ion and then spits them out and turns away. Hav ing g iven too m u c h to their jobs, these people have not st ructured a l i fe outside these hal ls of learn ing. They usual ly leave under s t ra ined c i rcumstances and they funct ion l ike the undead of the system. The i r t ime had come but they resist the ca l l . They seem condemned to a twi l ight zone of memor ies of teaching past and uncomfor tab le vis i ts back to the schoo l . O f course, there are many teachers who have complete ly reward ing careers and move on to the next adventure w i th grace and ease and humour . But it is the odd few that leave k i ck ing and screaming that haunt my psyche. O n a good day, the 50 -k i l omete r dr ive to work takes about 5 0 minutes. It's a hard dr ive and often I a m witness to a lot of impat ience and f rustrat ion as 63 thousands of cars on m y route squeeze th rough a br idge and a t iny cor r idor to move to work. I purposefu l ly arr ive at work before 7:30 am . Th is gives me t ime to u n w i n d f rom the commute pr io r to opening the room at 8:00 am. In the darkness, I sit o n my office couch and meditate. Transcendenta l Med i ta t ion , or T M , is the style that I pract ise. Fo r a lmost 20 years, I fa i thfu l ly medi tated twice a day. W h e n E m i l y was bo rn in 1998,1 had to put my medi ta t ing on ho ld . In 2003,1 was able to squeeze i n one medi ta t ion a day and I've been pretty wel l stuck at that amount . I have always received t remendous benefi t f r om th is Eastern d isc ip l ine. In fact, I was shocked at h o w much T M had increased my wel l -be ing, m y creat ivi ty and m y abi l i ty to concentrate. In fact, soon after I started medi ta t ing, I became evangelist ic and to ld a l l my f r iends that they had to t ry it. To m y chagr in , none of my fr iends f ound m u c h value in the pract ice and al l s topped. I don' t know why I get so m u c h out of T M but after the fa i lure of m y f r iends, I hard ly ever tel l people about it. I just do. Af ter 20 minutes of the pract ise, I've left the dr ive total ly beh ind . Between 8:00 and 8:30,1 tu rn on the l ights, un lock the doors and b rew some strong coffee. Students are inv i ted to come in for extra he lp at this t ime. Ex t ra help sessions are special for the "pro fess iona l " me as they are a t ime when I can real ly d ig i n and work one on one wi thout the pressure of the class dynamics . It is a t ime where I can real ly support and make a dif ference. It is also a t ime when I can increase m y rapport and unders tand ing of a student. Today, M a r k , a grade 7 beginner f rom a nearby feeder schoo l , has booked i n for the he lp session. It is not the f irst session. W e have been meet ing quite 64 regular ly as M a r k is real ly struggl ing. I have learned th rough the years that ch i ld ren of the same age can w i ld l y vary i n thei r development. M a r k is 12 years o ld , but real ly he's just a l i t t le boy, who is t ry ing ha rd to stay a l i t t le boy. In h is regular class he is a lmost always off-task soc ia l iz ing, mak ing funny faces a n d pre tend ing to p lay his bass guitar. N o w he is ser iously beh ind the rest of the class. H e has reluctant ly agreed to accept some help . H i s mother brought h i m to the f irst session. H e was not happy. I watched the dynamic between the mother and the ch i ld . I sensed that the ch i ld is very power fu l w i th in that dynamic . Today is h is four th vis i t . W h e n I do get h i m focused, I f i nd that he can learn the mater ia l as wel l as any one. W e make some progress and he leaves happy. I wor ry about next year. H o w w i l l he handle the r igors of h igh school l i fe? W h e n I help these students, I abandon any expectat ions on h o w the learn ing shou ld progress. Fo r example, I w i l l cont inue to s low down m y rate o f teaching, even to pa in fu l ly s low levels and sma l l steps i f it is requi red. I w i l l endlessly repeat processes and re- f rame them unt i l the concept or technique is absorbed. The student 's own abi l i ty and needs determine the rate of learn ing and the amount of learn ing. N o judgment is passed on the student. I t ry to be ca lm, easy and upbeat. A n y "one on one" work w i th a student always changes the dynamics o f our re lat ionship. It invar iab ly improves it. O n many levels, my early mo rn ing help session is the most f ru i t fu l t ime of the day. A t 8:25, the warn ing bel l sounds. I qu ick ly run to the wash room, as the coffee won' t let me carry on unt i l 9:47. W e have one hour and seventeen minute classes. To me, this length of class is too m u c h for grade 8 and 9 students. M y 6 5 f rust rat ion w i th this issue gives me cause to reflect on some of the in terna l processes of the teaching profession. The intersect ion of pol i t ics w i th the educat ion of ch i ld ren was someth ing that I was not prepared for as a novice teacher. The educat ional s logan of ou r prov inc ia l government: "Students come f irst," evokes m i xed responses w i th in me. One o f the educat ional t ru isms that I have developed is that scarcity evokes political activity. W h e n I entered the profession in the late 1 9 8 0 ' s , I found that the var ious departments i n the school were b roken in to separate camps and each aggressively sought favor w i th the admin is t ra t ion in order to garner monies to r u n their under - funded programs. W i t h this increased po l i t i c i sm, I not iced a proport ionate decrease in ethical act ion. The t imetable issue was dr iven p r imar i l y by th rough the needs of the science department. W e had been runn ing 5 / 5 5 - m i n u t e b locks a day. The school at th is t ime was number 1 in the province as determined by the conservat ive th ink- tank— the "Fraser Insti tute report." One w o u l d have to determine that, by the measure of the Fraser Insti tute, we were do ing wel l as a school . The Lab teachers wanted more t ime to c lean up after labs. The i r department head had the ear of a lot of people and successful ly spearheaded the commit tee for change. I a m sure it has been good for the lab sessions, but I feel that the result has been devastat ing for the 13 and 14 year olds at our school . M y sense is that it is just too long for the grade 8's and 9's to sit and focus. Children need to move. A t least, in the o ld system, the k ids rose up and moved to thei r next class every 55 minutes. Fur thermore , these long classes have moved lunch t imes to 12 .53 ! Th is makes th i rd b lock classes unfocussed and unru ly , as people are much too hungry to be product ive. 66 Besides peer pol i t ics, I have encountered and worked th rough admin is t ra t ive pol i t ics and school boa rd pol i t ics. In my f irst years of teaching, I act ively engaged i n rapport bu i ld ing activit ies w i th my admin is t ra tors . I soon learned that many admin is t ra tors had come f rom P E backgrounds. I feared that i n a f inanc ia l squeeze, admin is t ra tors might cut programs that they were un fami l ia r w i th . In order to increase thei r unders tand ing of the value of the arts, I w o u l d f o rm after-school rock bands w i th the admin is t ra t ion . The pr inc ipa l and v ice-pr inc ipa ls wou ld s ing or play w i th me. Inevitably, we w o u l d per form for laughs at school distr ict funct ions. I found th is strategy to be very effective in ra is ing the perceived value of the arts. R i ck Myers , one of my sponsor teachers when I was a student teacher, always sa id that i f you want to get access to power (money), bef r iend the P A C . R i ck clearly unders tood the re lat ionship between the parents and the pr inc ipa ls . I have not asked for much f rom our P A C , but when I d id , I learned the w i s d o m i n R ick ' s statement. In fact, a w o m a n on the P A C not iced that I had not been ask ing for any money. M y r a to ld me that it was t ime for my department to get some f inanc ia l support . She asked what I had dreamt about hav ing in m y b a n d room. I to ld her that I wou ld love to get a smal l record ing studio, as I bel ieved that mak ing a record ing of the students wou ld generate much learn ing for m y classes. W i t h i n two months , I had a fu l ly equipped 16 Dig i ta l record ing system, complete w i th mic rophones, cables and processing equipment . The P A C had put a major por t ion of thei r fund- ra is ing money in to the project. 67 Th is was an incredib le w i n for the mus ic department , but I f ound the next part of the story m u c h more cur ious. I needed a sma l l sound booth to house the new record ing system. M y P A C f r iend to ld me that Super intendent w o u l d have Faci l i t ies construct the booth . I warned her that it might be dif f icult for me to get the boa rd to f inance this. M y r a , however, d i d not see th is as a p rob lem. She s imp ly went to the board office and to ld the Super intendent to bu i l t it, as the P A C had already invested so much money i n the purchase of the equipment . Per iod ica l ly , M y r a wou ld phone me to ask h o w the const ruct ion was going. If it were not up to her sat isfact ion, she w o u l d march down to the board office and give the Super intendent a hard t ime. A s the process was near ing an end , I got another cal l f r om M y r a . "Is it f in ished yet?" she inqu i red . "They tel l me it w i l l be complete by Thursday, " I repl ied. "I ' l l be down to see it then, " she qu ipped. W h e n Thursday arr ived, the r o o m was not quite f in ished but , to m y th ink ing , close enough. " W e l l , " sa id M y r a , after receiv ing the royal tour , "I must be going now to take the Super intendent this apple pie that I cooked for her." "Wha t i f the project had not been f in ished?" I shyly asked. " In that case, I was going to " N o r t h Shore N e w s " to have it p r in ted that the Sea V i e w P A C had spent $ 1 0 , 0 0 0 on equ ipment that was not being used on account of the Super intendent . " I knew that M y r a was te l l ing the t ruth. The Super intendent cou ld be dif f icult at t imes, but M y r a unders tood her aversion for bad press.. In some ways, the super intendent d idn' t s tand a chance. Ne i ther d i d the teachers when they when they t r ied to defend thei r interests w i th the Super intendent . In a budget saving move, the Super intendent cancel led the pos i t ion of department head. Th is pos i t ion was not protected in our 68 contract at the t ime. So, the Super intendent pu l led back the money for the pos i t ion, a l though she fu l ly expected the department heads to cont inue the i r dut ies, albeit for free. Th is pos i t ion was not a h igh ly pa id one. Teachers, who were i n service as department heads, received a few thousand dol lars a year i n exchange for a lot of meetings and work. M y staff, however, was very offended by th is swift and unexpected act ion. A s a react ion, the staff voted to not at tend the s u m m e r pro-day morn ing in late August - the one where they had to l is ten to the Super intendent 's annua l report. The result of th is act ion was that Sea V i e w went through many years of no monies for school renovat ion or updat ing. Instead, it seemed to the staff at Sea V i e w that the Super intendent took al l the monies for upgrad ing and repair and poured it in to ne ighbour ing Clover Bluf fs H i g h . Th is school had accepted the Super intendent 's cut i n department head pay. There had been no overt act ion. W a s Clover Bluf fs deemed the good employees and the good school , as the Sea V i e w teachers suspected? I was reminded of this real or imag ined d ispar i ty one day, when I saw my f r iend, J o h n , ar r iv ing w i th a clock for the school . "A re you br ing ing us a new c lock?" I asked, not real ly Caring for an answer, but rather want ing to connect w i th J o h n . " O h , this isn' t a new clock, it 's f r om Clover Bluf fs H i g h . " Doesn' t C lover Bluf fs need i t? " I inqu i red . " O h no, these analog clocks have been j unked by Clover Bluffs . They on ly use digi tal c locks." W e were gett ing Clover Bluf fs ' throw-aways. O n a much larger scale, our school has no theatre. Th is is despite a s t rong per forming arts t rad i t ion. Abou t 5 years ago, a wonder fu l w o m a n named Fay B i l l ings wanted to bu i l d , as a legacy, a dual-use commun i t y / schoo l theatre. That is, 69 both the commun i t y and the school wou ld share the faci l i ty. The school w o u l d prov ide the l a n d at a school site and Fay B i l l ings w o u l d donate $5.5 m i l l i on dol lars to construct the faci l i ty. O u r school natura l ly lobb ied for the theatre. N o w I w i l l not pretend to k n o w what happened i n the back room negot iat ions, but I k n o w that Clover Bluf fs H i g h was chosen by the Super intendent as the site for the theatre, even though it had a fu l ly funct ion ing and great sound ing theatre already. I'll never forget the feel ing I had as I watched them demol ish th is theatre i n order to bu i l d a new one when Sea V i e w had no per formance venue to display the talents of thei r k ids . W e cou ld have had two theatres instead of one. In a f inal i ron ic twist , Sea V i e w was given the o ld seats f rom the theatre that was been demol i shed i n order to convert the d rama r o o m into a smal l theatre. C lear ing my m i n d of the past, I focus o n the tasks at hand . M y f irst class of the day, wh i ch starts at 8:30am is one of my favori te classes. It is my R & B (Rhy thm and Blues) B a n d Class. I love th is class for a number of reasons, but ma in ly for the fact that it teaches the students how to play by ear. Each student receives a C D of R & B mater ia l at the beg inn ing of the year. The goal is for the b a n d to f igure out what to play off the C D and then to go out and per form the mater ia l . Besides p rov id ing ear t ra in ing, this course offers other benefi ts: it in t roduces them to A f r o -A m e r i c a n soul mus ic of the 1960's and 1970's; it develops team mental i ty ; it teaches the group independence and responsib i l i ty , col lect ive decis ion mak ing , h igher per formance standards, and it develops leadership qual i t ies in students. Th is course was developed by mysel f to foster learn ing that was not be ing addressed to my satisfact ion through t radi t ional concert band programs. One of 7 0 the th ings that I have learned is that children are "able." By that I mean that i f you open the doors of expectat ion to greater learn ing, ch i ld ren w i l l often r ise to meet the chal lenge. One of the grat i fy ing by-products of th is course is the col lect ive matur i ty o f the band : If, by chance, the office needs to speak w i th me a n d I arr ive late to class, the class w i l l have started wi thout me. W h a t a fu l f i l l ing momen t th is is . Th is b a n d , a long w i th my after-school jazz ensembles, is c lear ly one of the h ighl ights of m y teaching experience. I t is a long journey of technica l and aesthetic growth f rom the Grade 7 beginners ' band to these ensembles. The commun i t y has thoroughly embraced the R & B band . Consequent ly , the b a n d is f requent ly asked to p lay for assorted funct ions and celebrat ions outs ide of school . Ker ry Sta l l ing, my student teacher, is teaching the second b lock of the day. H e is 2 6 years o ld and just start ing on h is journey. Ker ry is the 8 t h student teacher that I've sponsored. H e is a "na tu ra l " at th is game, w i th super ior knowledge of w i n d ins t ruments and an i r repressible energy and posi t ive personal i ty . W h e n they show promise , student teachers can be wonder fu l aides i n gett ing me a l i t t le more in order. Student teachers always prov ide an excel lent m i r ro r for myself. They make me uncomfor tab ly aware of the areas that I need to work on . Student teachers also eventual ly prov ide me w i th valuable catch-up t ime w i th my work. A n d it is real ly a joy to discuss pedagogy and strategy w i th t hem. Ker ry has chosen to teach stage band dur ing his f i rst week. H i s conf idence and love of the mater ia l is obvious to the class. They l is ten and co-operate. The class is, i n general , a success. Af terwards, I talk w i th Ker ry about pac ing and m o m e n t u m to keep up the fun and get th rough al l the learn ing objectives. H e 71 l istens careful ly. F ina l ly , I exp la in that al l the classes, regardless of h o w nice they are at the beg inn ing, w i l l test h i m to determine h is boundar ies. I te l l h i m to avo id tak ing it personal ly and that it is just a natura l need for students to discover l im i ts . T w o weeks later, Ker ry tel ls me that he real izes that c lassroom teaching is m u c h more a psychological "game" than he thought and that h is mus ica l knowledge is not that impor tant . I te l l h i m that bo th psychological and mus ica l knowledge are both impor tant and that he br ings a lot to offer the k ids. Secretly, I am very heartened by h is ep iphany so that we can move and discuss psychological issues and strategies. Getting into the Water Week One I can feel you th ink ing That I'm just another o ld fool A n d that I cannot match Y o u r knowledge base A n d your youth fu l age A n d your pass ion for you r art A n d your humou r and your earr ing Th is gig w i l l be easy, you assume M u s i c has been your l i fe; your ca l l ing So it shou ld be noth ing at al l To get the k ids to fa l l i n A n d to whisper the i r w h i m That you , l ike h i m , w o u l d be The i r teacher of choice But though you br ist le w i th conf idence A n d though I whist le at your technique Y o u do not yet unders tand that St i l l waters run deep A n d teaching is much more Complex than f irst appears A n d just as a v i r tuoso mus ic ian 72 C a n seduce you in to be l iev ing That someth ing incred ib ly ha rd Is actual ly easy, Don' t be fooled by that appar i t ion F o r you are l ike a swan that has Never seen water A n d never f lown south Fo r the w in te r A n d though Y o u maybe genetical ly pre-d isposed No th ing w i l l replace gett ing wet A n d in to the water Week Two W h a t happened? Didn ' t I expla in? W a t c h careful ly N o w who is to b lame? That the t im ing is off A n d you' re not fo l lowing Y o u r very own p lan A n d the ch i ld ren are Re-d i rec t ing your objectives A n d you are p layed in to their hand A n d get your head up ! Don ' t you see? W h a t has t ransp i red i n the class A s you waxed poet ic about your past? Y o u must lead, but not too s lowly Or the class w i l l total ly Pu l l you down , noth ing personal , They ' l l do it at any rehearsal To any conductor That fai ls to keep mov ing F o r these k inet ic beings Can hard ly keep st i l l so Y o u better be on top of your game A n d use your smarts and w i l l A n d guide the t ra in before it derai ls Week Three W h a t is this that you've found? W e may have c o m m o n g round Af ter a l l A s you notice h o w easi ly I step in and steer you away F r o m a disastrous fal l A n d now you are start ing to see Teach ing requires subject knowledge But just as much it needs strategy A n d in tu i t ion and subtlety To f ly and inspi re respectful ly A n d now I sense A change in the game You ' re watch ing and ta lk ing A n d gleaning m y ideas A n d I too A m open to you Fo r you have much To teach me as wel l So let us work as one The o ld and the young A n d tap out th is t ime Fo r a l l its wor th To play i n one of The greatest shows oh earth The th i rd b lock of the day is my band class of 43 grade 8 's. I have scheduled a test for th is b lock. I'm in i t ia l ly in ter rupted by a vis i t f r om a person f rom faci l i t ies. The ch i ld ren set up their ins t ruments and fur ious ly pract ise the test piece wh i le I say hel lo to Cra ig . I've known Cra ig for a number of years. Cra ig is a smi l i ng , midd le-aged t radesman who is often assigned repair and restorat ion jobs at our school . Due to cutbacks, he usual ly del ivers ma i l and parcels for the school distr ict , but today he is busy measur ing our w indows in the mus ic portable. H e w i l l b r ing to c losure a subject of stress for me. Two years ago, one of the nar row mus ic portable 74 windows was b roken by thieves who proceeded to steal a number of ins t ruments . A l t hough faci l i t ies insta l led a mot ion sensor to capture and deter future break- ins , I asked for some subt le whi te bars to be p laced across the w indows i n such a way as to b lock entry. Th is measure is be ing imp lemented just at the r ight t ime as I have heard that mus ic rooms i n Surrey and Burnaby have been robbed. Af ter answer ing Craig 's design quest ions, I move qu ick ly to start the class. I am thwar ted again as ha l f a dozen Grade 8 students run up to me. They are a l l f i l led w i th reasons why they shouldn ' t be tested today. Some seem legi t imate and have brought notes f rom home. Others are lack ing the documenta t ion and are begging for special t reatment. Th is is real ly ha rd for me. To reduce th is k i n d of negot iat ion, I perennia l ly review a hand-out ent i t led "Tests and Test Pro toco l . " Th is is to make a f lawed process as fair as possible. Tests and Test Protocol 1. F I V E T O S E V E N D A Y S N O T I C E O F A T E S T W I L L B E G I V E N . 2. T E S T S W I L L O N L Y B E O N M A T E R I A L S T U D I E D I N C L A S S . 3. T E S T S A R E O U T O F 25 M A R K S A N D A R E B A S E D O N T H E P L A Y I N G O F C O R R E C T : N O T E S , R H Y T H M , A R T I C U L A T I O N , D Y N A M I C S , A N D T O N E , T U N I N G , P O S T U R E , A N D A P R O J E C T I O N O F T H E U N D E R L Y I N G E M O T I O N A L M E S S A G E I N T H E P I E C E , ( IE- T H E " S P I R I T " O F T H E P I E C E ) . 4. IF Y O U W A N T H E L P O R A N O P I N I O N O N H O W Y O U W O U L D B E G R A D E D , P L E A S E A R R A N G E A M E E T I N G W I T H M R . T. N O L A T E R T H A N 48 H O U R S P R I O R T O T H E T E S T . M R . T. W O U L D B E H A P P Y T O A S S I S T Y O U ! 5. Y O U M A Y H A V E T W O " T R Y S " I N A R O W A T T H E M A T E R I A L . 75 6. IF Y O U A R E S ICK , Y O U M U S T P R E S E N T A H A N D W R I T T E N N O T E F R O M Y O U R P A R E N T / G U A R D I A N . T H I S N O T E M U S T I N C L U D E A S I G N A T U R E A N D A P H O N E N U M B E R . M R . T W I L L P H O N E H O M E ! 7. IF , F O R S O M E R E A S O N , Y O U A R E P R E S E N T , B U T A R E U N P R E P A R E D T O P L A Y T H E T E S T , ( E G - F O R G O T I N S T R U M E N T , F O R G O T M U S I C , F O R G O T R E E D S , C O R D S , E T C . O R A R E S U D D E N L Y F E E L I N G P O O R L Y ) , Y O U W I L L L O S E 5 M A R K S F O R E A C H C O N S E C U T I V E D A Y T H A T Y O U D O N O T P L A Y T H E T E S T . 8. T H O S E I N D I V I D U A L S W H O " S K I P " T H E C L A S S O N T H E D A Y O F T H E T E S T , W I L L , I N A C C O R D A N C E W I T H S C H O O L P O L I C Y , R E C E I V E A N A U T O M A T I C " o " O N T H E Q U I Z . B E R E A D Y T O P L A Y O N T H E A S S I G N E D T E S T D A Y . P L E A S E D O N O T A S K F O R A T I M E E X T E N S I O N , O R A R E T E S T . IT 'S N O T F A I R T O T H E O T H E R S . R E M E M B E R - A N Y O N E W H O P R A C T I S E S 30 M I N U T E S A N I G H T , 5 D A Y S A W E E K W I L L H A V E L I T T L E T R O U B L E M A I N T A I N I N G A F I R S T C L A S S M A R K I N T H I S C O U R S E . G O O D L U C K ! M R . T. A s I review this l ist, I a m struck at the number of issues addressed as we l l as the general complex i ty of th is fo rm. It is real ly the ant i thesis o f my teach ing style. In my handouts , I str ive for c lar i ty and s impl ic i ty . Here , I have fa i led. In fact, I a m reminded of an episode encapsulated by Gary La rson i n the " F a r S ide" cartoons. In th is par t icu lar car toon, an o ld , exper ienced elementary school teacher has wr i t ten on the board a l ist of do's and don ' ts -much l ike this one. In the car toon, the l ist is endless and absolutely r id icu lous in detai l . It is an extremely funny and absurd cartoon whose potency is der ived f rom some connect ion to the t ruth. Over the years of teaching, the o ld teacher has heard just about every excuse and wi tnessed just about every possible s l ip i n behavior . The r id icu lous l ist is her at tempt at class cont ro l . 76 M y handout has the sense of a legal document . Unfor tunate ly , I have found that at every test, the Grade 8's have a rash of sickness (a l though they are we l l enough to at tend school) and an ep idemic of forgetfulness. W h a t is even more f rustrat ing is that the students w i l l aggressively argue for thei r " r ight" to not be tested. So, i n order to protect mysel f f r om being accused of be ing unfa i r , I have constructed this protocol . Th is clar i f ies the " ru les" a round test ing. I never spr ing tests on them. I encourage students to see me to prep for the tests. I ta lk about what I a m mark ing on in great detai l w i th volunteers p lay ing a mock test. Ch i l d ren can be excused f rom tests, but a note must accompany it. F ina l l y , I use an audiotape to record the test days so that I can expla in in detai l to upset students and parents the areas of competence and the areas that need more work. H a v i n g sa id al l th is , most of the students receive f i rst class marks i n m y band classes. By grade 9, most students can guess w i th in ha l f a mark , what any student per formance w i l l be wor th . I use th is system for every class, w i th the except ion of the R & B class. In th is senior class, I a l low the ch i ld ren to contr ibute to the f ina l grade th rough peer-evaluat ion. Peers determine two marks -an effort mark and a sk i l ls or resul t -based mark for every student i n the class. I do the same for each student. The peer-assessed marks are averaged out so I end up w i th a class perspect ive of each student 's effort and a results mark . These two marks are added together w i th m y assessment of each student 's effort and results mark. The average of these four marks gives me a f inal mark for thei r report cards. In us ing th is system, I acknowledge that it weighs heavi ly on effort. But I want the students to take the r isks needed to meet the chal lenges of the course and consequent ly grow as 77 music ians. Learn ing to play by ear is a very unnerv ing prospect for many students. I bel ieve as a mus ic educator that children must move from being "paper" dependent to becoming explorers of sound who are open to other systems of learning music. Th is is how mus ic or ig ina l ly a n d organical ly came to be and st i l l is the modus operand i for a lot of the wor ld . The class ends and it is lunch t ime. I col lect my l unch f r om my office and start to make my way to the staff room. A s I open m y door to leave my office, m y eye catches some of m y own graff i t i . The ch i ld ren can't see it, but I can't miss it whenever I leave my office. A t the top of the door, scrawled i n b lack marker is "Learning should be fun!" Th is s imple phrase eloquent ly describes the p ivota l concept of m y teaching phi losophy. I bel ieve that ch i ld ren learn faster and reta in more when there is joy and pass ion at tached to the lesson-regardless of the content. Impl ic i t i n that statement is that there is an under ly ing rhy thm and m o m e n t u m to any good teaching. I bel ieve that even some of the dr iest topics can be re- formatted to be del ivered i n more meaningfu l ways to ch i ld ren. A s my eyes scan downward on the door, the next scrawl comes in to v iew. It reads: "Act neutral on the obvious."This crypt ic message is wr i t ten to help me keep professional at points when I cou ld lose it. One of the ways I can lose m y professional edge is by assuming expectat ions of behaviors that I have not addressed i n class. Somet imes i n the past I wou ld f ind mysel f surpr ised at acts of total ly inappropr iate behavior or the lack of the most fundamenta l social sk i l ls of certain students. I wou ld f ind mysel f want ing to respond to these obvious ly inappropr ia te act ions by saying, " Y o u shou ld k n o w better...." N o w , in the 2 1 s t Century , w i th a diverse mul t i -cu l tura l cl ientele that often come f rom compromised 78 fami ly s i tuat ions, I tend to act i n a very neutra l manner to even the most out land ish acts of inappropr iateness and ca lmly expla in our school 's expectations— hence, "Ac t neutral on the obvious." A s I am leaving my office, two students enter to ask a quest ion. A s they leave, they spot o ld p romo photos of the bands that I p layed w i th i n my professional days. They laugh crazi ly when they f i nd me w i th long ha i r and rock att ire. The experience of professional p lay ing has been an invaluable tool i n m y arsenal of teaching strategies. M y entire mus ica l career has been a hyb r id affair. A l t hough I heard a lot of mus ic at our house when I was growing up , I was not mot ivated to learn mus ic unt i l the Beatles hi t the airwaves. Th is led to a 20 -yea r journey in to rock, b lues, R & B and pop mus ic . W h e n I came out of professional p lay ing to at tend U B C ' s school of mus ic , I ended up w i th a degree in c lassical mus ic . A s I w a s un fami l ia r w i th this genre, I majored in musieology so that I cou ld gain a w ide h is tor ica l perspect ive. N o w I am very taken w i th jazz mus ic and I a m study ing it at home. I have taken these var ious genres and mo lded a three-way system for my teaching. I teach classical mus ic , jazz and R & B . A n d so, after the j un io r years of generic sk i l l bu i ld ing , grade 10 students aud i t ion for the orchestra class, the var ious jazz ensembles or the R & B class. M y student teacher and I head up to the cafeteria. W e have about 2 5 minutes to eat before we must dr ive to our f irst feeder school . I t remendous ly enjoy my precious t ime w i th the staff upstai rs. It is "adul t " t ime in a day saturated w i th youngsters. There is a wonder fu l array of characters at the table. K r i s ty is the l ib rar ian and Rober t teaches Eng l i sh . Ha r r y used to be an edi tor and book 79 publ isher i n another l i fe. Doug is work ing par t - t ime as a chemist ry teacher so that he can complete h is masters' degree at Roya l Rhodes. R ight now, I l ike to sit next to B r i an , our d rama teacher. H e and I are going th rough a teaching rite of passage-the "h igh school mus ica l " and we need to be close for our own preservat ion. A t tempt ing to mount a professional Broadway mus ica l that was not designed in any way for h igh school or amateur actors, mus ic ians , or technic ians is potent ia l ly an extremely stressful s i tuat ion. It is f inanc ia l ly stressful and pedagogical ly stressful. In fact, one cou ld launch an argument that it is a very unsound activi ty for any mus ic student to attempt. Some schools, however, have long-s tanding t radi t ions of h igh school musica ls . M y school has been p roduc ing them since it opened i n the early 1960 ' s . W h e n I started in 1 9 8 8 , we produced four musica ls i n four years. Af ter that, I successful ly argued to have a mus ica l every other year and a band t r ip on the off years. A l t hough the musicals are a great experience for those on stage^ it is a lot of unreward ing work for the pit mus ic ians. Students spend un to ld hours st ruggl ing w i th parts that require exacting and expert reading ski l ls . Of ten, the brass parts require players w i th exceedingly h igh range. A r i d an i r r i ta t ing feature for amateurs is the constant t ransposi t ions of songs in to very di f f icult key signatures. The mus ic is leased to us on a month - to -month basis. It is expensive to lease and so we w i l l have had access to the mus ic for about 3 months , p r io r to show t ime. A t least i n the or ig inal shows, the mus ic ians were wel l pa id for thei r efforts. M a n y N e w Y o r k pros spent their careers in the cavernous holes of the Broadway theatres. In l ieu of money, B r ian and I have created other "w ins " for the mus ic students. W e put them up on stage. W i t h this approach, f r iends and parents can 80 see the b a n d students. The mus ic ians are also featured w i th ind iv idua l p ictures a n d wr i te-ups in the p rogramme. Through these means, the student mus ic ians feel much more inc luded in the product ion . Th is year, we are produc ing "South Pac i f ic " One of m y strategies for improv ing the band 's per formance and he lp ing the dancers and singers is to record the ins t rumenta l parts of the mus ic as soon as the b a n d can get th rough it. I just f in ished record ing the band . N o w the singers w i l l have "bed " t racks to s ing and pract ise w i th and the dancers w i l l be able to adjust to the b a n d tempos a n d interpretat ion of the mus ic . The mus ic ians and I w i l l cr i t ical ly rev iew the record ing and work to f ix prob lems. If t ime permi ts , we w i l l do a second run of record ing. P r io r to that, on Spr ing Break, I w i l l record the singers so that they may have a good m i r ro r of their per formance to analyze I rehearse the mus ica l orchestra unt i l it has actual ly t ranscends what we thought we cou ld achieve. O n the last week of rehearsals, I make sure that everyone has the speaking cues for star t ing each mus ica l part wr i t ten i n thei r mus ic . T h e n I ask a band member (usual ly the d rummer ) , to count i n the cues. W i t h the d r u m m e r start ing each number , I have l i teral ly handed over the mus ica l to the students. N o w there is no rteed for a conductor . I f i nd that th is f ina l step has some r isks, but by pu l l ing the teacher out of the equat ion, the matur i ty of the band members b looms l ike tu l ips on a spr ing day. Senior students crave a chance to lead by themselves. A n d successful r isk tak ing in leadership at this age, I bel ieve, can be a l i fe-al ter ing experience. I just stack the deck a bit , as I t ra in the orchestra so thoroughly, that they automat ical ly p lay everything w i th m y exact interpretat ion of the mus ic . S t i l l , the r isks and 81 responsib i l i t ies to come in correct ly and on t ime are st i l l real . A n d a l though I a m in the theatre, I a m not w i th in easy for any cr is is as I a m usual ly m ix ing the b a n d on the soundboard at the f ront of the ha l l . O u r last product ion step w i l l be kn i t t ing the mus ic ians , actors, dancers, singers and technic ians into one presentable product . Th is is cal led " runn ing the mus ica l . " W h e n you run a mus ica l , certain energy and rhy thm emanates f rom the amalgam of the var ious parts. Th is f low and focus w i l l make or destroy a mus ica l . Drops in pac ing and emot ion just create another " b a d " school mus ica l that everybody pol i te ly suffers through. Great f low and energy can take the mus ica l beyond the expectat ions of any h igh school p roduc t ion . A n d so B r ian and I end up ta lk ing about detai ls of the mus ica l before Ker ry and I hu r ry to the car to get to our feeder school . Today, we teach the af ternoon b lock at Eco le Pau l Jones. T h i s is one of three feeder schools that I service i n the af ternoon block. W h e n I in i t ia l ly started work ing th is job , Sea V iew , 1 was a grade 7-12 schoo l . Un l i ke many other distr ic ts, there was no w i l l to suppor t band programs at an elementary level . So, beg inn ing band was taught at Grade 7 i n Sea V iew , Approx imate ly 6 years ago, the distr ict removed the grade 7's f rom the h igh school and put them back into the elementary schools. I was very concerned about the future of the mus ic program at Sea V iew . I bel ieve that students need to start learn ing a mus ica l ins t rument before puberty. Consequent ly , I have been dr iv ing to the feeder schools ever since this change. It is t i r ing be ing i t inerant after al l these years, but I have learned, in my distr ict , that i f I don' t look after and lobby for my p rog ram, it w i l l qu ick ly disappear. 82 The beginner band classes are the most chal lenging part o f the day. They demand energy, organizat ion and inf in i te pat ience. I must cont ro l the class, but at the same t ime opt imize the fun so that the ch i ld ren w i l l sense value i n learn ing an ins t rument and choose to carry on to study it at h igh schoo l . M y classes are very h igh paced. In January , I start teaching them rock and ro l l classics f r o m the ' 50 ' s . The k ids love songs l i ke " L a B a m b a , " "Tequ i l a " and "The Locomot ion . " If I can get the k ids to " rock" I usual ly can expect a good number to cont inue i n Grade 8 at Sea V iew. A t 3 : 0 0 o'clock I have about 15 minutes down t ime before I start m y after-school jazz improv isa t ion ensembles. I have a j un io r and a senior ensemble. I r un these after school bands as enr iched programs for gifted learners. M y approach to max im iz ing the learn ing success of my p rogram is as fo l lows: 1. The bu lk of the students learn i n the c lassroom sett ing. I pace m y yearly outcomes on the learn ing rhy thms of each class so that the bu lk of the students succeed to achieve my def ined outcomes. 2. Ch i l d ren who cannot meet the rhy thm of the class learn ing are inv i ted for cont inued before-school private help f rom me. 3 . Students who clearly need chal lenge beyond the c lassroom are inv i ted to meet the chal lenge of learn ing jazz improv isa t ion in an ext ra-curr icu lar sett ing w i th other gifted students. A n d so, th rough these before and after school sessions, I feel that I've made some improvement on the bu lk learn ing fo rmu la of pub l ic educat ion. A l t hough I don' t get pa id for these services, I sleep better at night know ing that there is oppor tun i ty for my students to either catch up or be chal lenged th rough mus ic p rogram. 83 The jun io r and senior after-school jazz ensembles are t remendous ly reward ing for me. I love teaching at an "advanced" level . These students receive college level theory. It is real ly nice to be teaching and p lay ing wi thout the issues of d isc ip l ine. The senior jazz ensemble w i th its ha rd bop and " K i n d of B lue " repertoire has become a favori te in our distr ict for receptions and gatherings that require mus ic that creates a pleasant ambience. These ensembles take up my after-school t ime for two days a week. O n other days, after schoo l , I attend Master 's classes, rehearse for th is year's mus ica l , or work on our yearly band t r ip. Th is ends the day. M y head swims f rom mul t i - task ing. The sun is sett ing and I'm off for the f ina l leg of m y workday, the 50-k i l omete r batt le home. Soon I'll be: Deep i n the gr id and lock of 9 to 5 Eat ing the fumes and curs ing buf foons In a pan ic to get off the tar Fo r domest ic abyss i n my l i t t le house i n the sub W i t h its 70 ' s b ig engine t ime warp and Neighbors who are whi te-r ight of A rno ld . . . . . .and I w i l l start the next part of my day-the one w i th m y fami ly . I leave m y work at work unt i l I return once again i n the pre-dawn hours to descend the long gym bleacher stairs and start another day. A Trilogy of Developmental Stories The Story of "The Blues Brothers—a Musical" Char l ie Ph i l l i ps and I had p layed together i n a lot of bands when we were m u c h younger. N o w , as professional educators, we were once again work ing as a team. Th is t ime it was i n the roles of mus ic teacher and d rama teacher. 84 I had already been teaching mus ic at Sea V i e w for f ive years p r io r to Char l ie becoming the d rama teacher. D u r i n g this tenure, I h a d establ ished mysel f i n my role and m y personal pr ior i t ies, interests and passions were start ing to surface i n the p rogram. One t rad i t ion that I had to deal w i th was a commun i t y expectat ion for a mus ica l . I was not very keen on musica ls , but as a new teacher, I was quite concerned wi th local pol i t ics and pol ic ies. Consequent ly , I had , i n par tnersh ip w i th the previous d rama teachers, p roduced "F idd le r on the Roof , " "The S o u n d of M u s i c , " "Grease" and "Bye-bye B i rd ie . " W i t h Char l ie tak ing on the pos i t ion of d rama teacher, I knew that I w o u l d have to become invent ive in my approach to the mus ica l . Char l ie was a mode rn v is ionary who possessed O l y m p i a n energy and dedicat ion to his job . I knew that he had no t ime for " o l d " Broadway musica ls that tended to represent values and sent iments of the past. I also knew that Char l ie was crazy about R h y t h m and B lues-urban A f ro -Amer i can soul mus ic f r om the 1 9 6 0 ' s - so m u c h so, that I had connected h i m w i th a "B lues Brothers" t r ibute band . Char l ie loved to per fo rm on his H a m m o n d B3 organ w i th a band that parod ied the comedie story of the mov ie that stared J o h n Be loush i and Dan A c k r o y d . " H o w about creat ing "The Blues Brothers—a_Musica l , " I suggested, put t ing into my voice a posi t ive sp in . " W e could wr i te our own scr ipt over a background of famous R & B songs. W h y , you cou ld even p lay the B3 in the m u s i c a l ! " The creative potent ia l of this s i tuat ion was way too great for a champ ion educator l ike Char l ie to pass on . 85 "I want to add J o h n Peppard to the team," he sa id . J o h n was a young Socia l Studies teacher at the school . J o h n loved Char l ie 's energy and v is ion and t r ied to mode l h is style after Char l ie . " J o h n has been tak ing courses on h o w to wr i te screen plays for Te lev is ion, " Char l ie cont inued. "I w i l l work w i th h i m on the scr ipt . I w i l l also be the producer and set designer. M i c h a e l , you , o f course, w i l l be the mus ic director." Creat ing the mus ica l w o u l d be chal lenging. Usua l l y the songwri ters and lyr ic ists compose songs that are generated f rom a l ibretto or text. The purposes of the songs are many. F o r example, the songs can describe what has passed in the act ion or what emot ions the singer or the group is exper iencing. Songs can also move the plot fo rward by detai l ing what w i l l happen next. W e h a d a un ique s i tuat ion i n that the songs and thei r ly r ic stories were already composed. Fur thermore , there was no in tent ional themat ic l inkage between these R & B hi ts. O u r f i rst step was to compi le a number o f outs tanding R & B hits. I dug though my C D ' s and constructed an anthology that inc luded art ists l ike W i l s o n Picket t , Sam and Dave, Are tha F r a n k l i n , James B r o w n , Smokey Rob inson , The Fou r Tops , to name a few. J o h n took th is col lect ion and notated the themes of the lyr ics for each song. Then , by luck and creativi ty, he was able to see a potent ia l "coherence" i n a number of the songs. To his credit , J o h n , w i th Char l ie 's support , constructed a f ine l ibret to. The story ended up be ing st rong in itself, w i th no connect ion, except i n name to the or ig ina l "B lues Brothers" movie script. Once J o h n had nar rowed down the l ist to those songs that wou ld be in the mus ica l , it was my job to t ranscr ibe al l the parts of al l the songs and then teach them to my stage band . Th is represented a lot of work. For tunate ly , I had a student 86 teacher. I recal l count less hours in m y school office t ranscr ib ing. I used headphones as I fought to b lock out the sounds of the classes whi le the student teacher taught. The parts were a l l handwr i t ten. A s I f in ished each song, I w o u l d then proceed to teach them to m y senior stage band class. The class seemed very interested i n the mater ia l a n d it was an easy fit for the ins t rumenta t ion as most R & B records use horns as we l l as guitar, d rums, bass and keyboards. W e had some real " f inds" i n our cast ing. A l t hough we thought we knew a l l the actor /s ingers i n the schoo l , we were del ighted to discover a young lead ing m a n , James O len . James was a footbal l player, who had not worked w i th the f ine arts department. There were three components to the cast ing cal ls. The f i rst component was a dramat ic reading. The second component was a dance number . F ina l l y , the student had to s ing a song. W e were shocked to discover that James sounded exactly l ike the young male singer who stared in the R & B movie "The Commi tmen ts . " W e pa i red up James w i th another st rong singer, L u k e Gooda l l . The two made a magical team. Other characters qu ick ly fel l in to place. The d r a m a was start ing to take shape. Ano the r hurd le to j u m p was that of secur ing a theatre. Unfor tunate ly , our school d id not have a proper theatre. W e had a large gym that had a stage at one end. Char l ie was not happy wi th th is venue. Ever s ince he started teaching, Char l ie has always t r ied to env is ion bigger and more exci t ing learn ing experiences for ch i ld ren. So it d id not come as a surpr ise to learn that he had ta lked the owner o f the Park Roya l c inemas into loan ing us one of his three c inemas to rehearse and foist the product ion . N o w we had a script, mus ic , cast of actors, and a per formance venue. W e set up an intensive pract ice schedule to kn i t together the ind iv idua l wo rk of the actors, dancers, and band . Put t ing a show together so that it has an energy and a pulse of its own is a chal lenging propos i t ion . It is ha rd enough to develop the students to a qual i ty level ei ther i n s ing ing, danc ing , act ing, or p lay ing, but it is a daunt ing task to put the ind iv idua l parts together i n such a way that the overal l s u m of energy surpasses the total of the ind iv idua l parts. W i t h th is show, our level of success shocked al l of us . The mus ica l d i d launch and develop an energy of its own. But there was another factor for success that we underest imated. W e hadn' t real ly calculated the un iversa l appeal of R & B music . W e discovered bo th the parents and the students loved this mus ic . No t only d i d we have a sold-out run at the Park Roya l c inema, but , a lso, we ended up tak ing the produc t ion downtown and hav ing a successful r un at the Vogue Theatre. The t remendous success of this experience spur red the teaching team to begin a r u n of or ig ina l musicals where in the mus ic as we l l as the l ibrettos was conceived by the team. M y work moved to inc lude compos i t ion as wel l as b a n d di rect ing. But greatest impact on my p rogram and my career came f rom a v is ion of creat ing a class devoted to a cu r r i cu lum of R & B music . The Story of the Creation of the Rhythm and Blues Class After a summer of ref lect ion on the success of "The Blues Bro thers -A M u s i c a l , " I decided that I wanted to swi tch the focus of my senior stage band class. I had been quite frustrated wi th the s tandard fare of h igh school band music . I felt 88 that it was staid and t i red and hopelessly out of date. I dec ided that I wanted to teach a class about R & B mus ic . To unders tand the reasoning beh ind th is under tak ing beyond the obv ious success of the mus ica l , I must reveal some more of my values and ref lect ions as a mus ic ian , educator and h u m a n . The fo l lowing is an excerpt f r om an essay o f m ine that was wr i t ten as part of an assignment for a course on Ac t i on Research. The making of music has always held a very special place in my life. It has provided continuous challenge and rewards. Moreover, it has been a place of sanctuary and self-expression. From an early age, music making has consistently grounded and revitalized my spirit. In fact, it has been a world unto itself-a world of never ending joy, adventure, and learning. It has given me a platform to launch my priorities, my values and my point of view. It has allowed me a level of self-determination that would be hard to obtain in the real world. It is because of this rich, fulfilling, and multi-faceted experience that I determined I would spread this joy to others-I would become a teacher. Teaching my beloved subject in the public high school system was, initially, afar cry from my previous experience with music. In my naivety, I had not considered the non-musical issues, such as class control, dealing with parents, principals and school-based politics in general. Fortunately, over the years, I have developed strategies and learned skills that have helped me overcome these impediments. In fact, my program has become quite successful. One area, however, where I have only experienced limited success is in adjusting to the limitations of the curriculum-a curriculum that for the most part, tends to support the music from a past colonial culture. The band music curriculum in North American public schools has been dominated by the concert band genre and its associated repertoire. This is an old genre with roots in the British military tradition. The genre includes marches, anthems and a generous borrowing of repertoire from the classical and jazz idioms. Today's band teachers have virtually all grown up under the auspices of this system. Their values and formative notions of pedagogy have been influenced by this system. Consequently, band programs in North America have been structured to deliver and maintain this style of music. So pervasive is this genre, one finds that high school jazz bands, who actually play a more modern and indigenous style and repertoire, are reduced in importance and viewed in schools as an add-on or adjunct to the concert band experience. Junior and senior concert bands are considered the pre-eminent bands in many schools. The concert band approach, though it is thorough, sequential and grounded in a good technical pedagogy, might benefit from a revitalization of the curriculum by some of the advances, both musically and technologically, of today's world. The main area of contention seems to be the repertoire itself. In my experience, concert band repertoire does not connect with young performers. It does not move them emotionally and, in general, the students do not connect with the underlying messages or the pulse of this music. This detachment seems quite 8 9 reasonable if one accepts the notion that music is one of the great purveyors and representatives of culture. Concert band music, for the most part does not reflect the culture of today. Few people, if any, in today's society listen to concert band music. One cannot find a "concert band" section in most CD stores. Students never enter my classroom listening to concert band music. I suggest that, for the most part, music teachers are teaching a historical form that is detached from the world, as we know it now. It comes as no surprise then that students are not reaping the wonderful rewards of playing music-the rewards that have consistently nourished and sustained my interest and drove me to teaching in the first place. The creat ion of an R & B course in i t ia l ly seemed to be a so lu t ion to my issues w i th the cu r r i cu lum as it was be ing taught i n most h igh schools i n Br i t i sh Co lumb ia . I had learned through the mus ica l that the ch i ld ren loved R & B mus ic . A l though it is st i l l not completely a current genre, it is m u c h closer to today's mus ic than any concert or stage band repertoire cou ld hope to be and it uses brass, so that it can be open to lots of my students. W h e n I dec ided to imp lement th is idea, I 'knew that it was cr i t ical that I enl ist some of the great singers f r om the mus ica l . W i thou t thei r level of talent, I d i d not th ink that I cou ld launch any k i n d of p rogram that cou ld pub l ic ly per form. A s fate wou ld have it, James O len , one of the two stars of our show, had a spare b lock that co inc ided w i th the f ledgl ing R & B class. Fur thermore , two more female singers f rom the mus ica l were also able to alter thei r t imetables to a l low them to jo in . The class cou ld f ly! I wanted this class to parrot a lot of the experiences and memor ies that I had as a professional mus ic ian . W h e n I p layed w i th bands in Vancouver n ightc lubs, for example, we cou ld not wait for the mus ic of the current rock and pop hi ts to be pr in ted. Instead, we learned a l l the mater ia l by ear. If we had t rouble, we wou ld help each other. A l s o , the show had to be t ight and profess ional , as there was m u c h 9 0 compet i t ion for the gigs. A s is often the case, there were many more bands i n the area than there was work. O f course, we had to look good as wel l as sound good. A l though noth ing was real ly choreographed, we st i l l moved on stage and rocked hard . W e had to connect w i th the audience and take them on a mus ica l adventure every night. Song l ists were careful ly constructed and there were no delays between songs, or we wou ld lose the dancers and the atmosphere that we were t ry ing to create. F ina l l y , there was a special bond that fo rmed between the b a n d members . A l l of us wanted to survive and succeed i n the business. I run the class w i th much of the att i tude and techniques that were employed dur ing my professional tenure. The course is accessed th rough audi t ions. It is domina ted by Grade n and Gradei2 mus ic students, most of who have worked w i th me since Grade 7 beginner b a n d and have grown th rough the h ierarchy of learn ing in the Sea V i e w mus ic p rogram. A t the f irst class of each school year, each student receives a C D of approx imate ly 22 songs. One of the outcomes of the course is for each student to learn thei r part for each of the songs. W e general ly t ry to tackle a new song every class or two. Students in i t ia l ly work on the assigned song at home, and produce a short set of notes descr ib ing what they were able to t ranscr ibe. I col lect these notes. They represent the effort made by each student to develop thei r ears. The effort is acknowledged-not whether the notes are r ight or wrong. W e then look at the song col lect ively, i n class. People break up in teams to discuss thei r results and come to a consensus on how the song w i l l be p layed. The song is then rehearsed. Voca ls are added; harmonies and dance moves are constructed. W h e n the song je l ls , it is added to a rotat ing play l ist of songs that the students p lay each class. . 91 The correct att i tude is emphas ized. Students must be punctua l and ready to work i n a mature and serious manner . Of ten there w i l l be "down t ime" where one sect ion of the band has to fix a p rob lem. The rest of the band must act mature ly and not j a m or d isrupt the few who need help. The toughest part of the mus ic is to play it w i th enough concentrat ion and feel ing. Due to the deceptively s imp ly f o rm and structure of the music , students in i t ia l ly get lu l led in to bel iev ing that the mus ic is very easy. Th is results i n a break in concentrat ion and a drop of the "groove" a n d feel ing o f the song. Beg inn ing R & B players do not always recognize that the feel ing o f the song is not r ight. I work ha rd to support them to realize when they have lost the "groove." B a n d members are actively encouraged to get to k n o w and , perhaps, bef r iend other band members . The amount of in terna l cohesion seems to direct ly improve the level of per formance. To support th is no t ion , the b a n d often has d inners together after gigs and general ly takes a b a n d t r ip each year. Students must be ready to part ic ipate i n these extra-curr icu lar activi t ies. M y role is one of faci l i tator. I have no desire to pol ice the band 's behav ior , as do ing so w o u l d th row the class into a t rad i t iona l f rame and the objectives of developing leadership, matur i ty , and creative p rob lem so lv ing cou ld be p laced i n jeopardy. To support the not ion of teacher as faci l i tator and technica l a id , each student a long w i th their parents s ign a contract of unders tand ing and commi tment . Th is contract is as fo l lows: R &B EXPECTATIONS THE R&B BAND ISA VERY SPECIAL CLASS AT SEA VIEW. THE REWARDS DERIVED FROM THIS CLASS ARE NOT OFTEN AVAILABLE IN A REGULAR HIGH 92 SCHOOL COURSE. STUDENTS WILL NEED TO DEMONSTRATE MATURITY. ENTHUSIASM. AND A STRONG COMMITMENT TO THE BAND AND IT'S GOALS AND REPERTOIRE IN ORDER FOR THE CLASS TO BE SUCCESSFUL. THIS WILL BE DISPLAYED IN THE FOLLOWING MANNER: 1. STUDENTS WILL WORK HARD AT THEIR SONG PARTS AT HOME. 2. STUDENTS WILL HAVE A SONG PREPARED (IN WRITING) FOR EACH CLASS. 3 . STUDENTS WILL PLAY THE SONGS BY MEMORY. 4 . STUDENTS WILL MAKE THEMSELVES AVAILABLE FOR THE VARIOUS EXTRACURRICULAR PERFORMANCES. 5. STUDENTS WILL TAKE EACH CLASS SERIOUSLY 6. STUDENTS WILL BE PUNCTUAL AND SET UP QUICKLY. 7. ONCE CLASS HAS STARTED/STUDENTS WILL ONLY PLAY AND FOCUS ON THIS YEAR'S REPETOIRE OF MUSIC. 8.STUDENTS WILL ALWAYS PLAY THE MUSIC WITH AS MUCH ENERGY, SPIRIT, AND "SOUL" AS POSSIBLE. 9.STUDENTS WILL BEFRIEND AND RESPECT OTHER BAND MEMBERS TO CREATE A COHESIVE "TEAM" ENVIRONMENT. 10. STUDENTS WILL ASSIST EACH OTHER IN THE LEARNING OF NEW SONGS. I, ,HAVE READ AND UNDERSTAND THE 10 EXPECTATIONS FOR THE R & B CLASS, AND AM PREPARED TO DO MY BEST TO FOLLOW THESE RULES. I KNOW THAT THIS COURSE REQUIRES CONSISTENT MATURITY AND FOCUS ON MY PART. I REALIZE THAT FORCING MR. T. TO CONSTANTLY POLICE MY BEHAVIOURS IS COUNTER- PRODUCTIVE TO THE CLASS AND THAT FAILURE TO MEET THESE EXPECTATIONS MAY RESULT IN A LOSS OF THE RIGHT TO ATTEND AND BE IN THE CLASS. SIGNATURE OF STUDENT. SIGNATURE OF PARENT AFTER READING THE EXPECTATIONS A second educat ional challenge for the R & B class is the m u s i c a l that we produce every second year. O n these years, we push h a r d to get t h r o u g h our basic repertoire i n order to make r o o m for in-class rehearsals of the m u s i c for the p r o d u c t i o n . T h i s " h a r d " reading provides a balance to a l l the "ear" w o r k of the fa l l t e r m . P e r f o r m i n g for two weeks i n the m u s i c a l is a very rewarding experience, b o t h musica l ly a n d social ly for the students. 93 Th is educat ional project is a local success. W e seem to prov ide the u l t imate "crossover" mus ic for many events. Parents are especial ly we lcoming to th is genre. I k n o w that the R & B band has been p icked over other school bands for events s imp ly because the mus ic is energetic, danceable and fun . A s a result , we usual ly play for large crowds at both N o r t h and West Vancouver Canada Day celebrat ions. Pr ivate businesses, when they are hav ing a celebrat ion, w i l l often pay us to per fo rm. The mus ic festival at Keremeos, A . K . A . " M u s i c under the K." has asked us to be part of the enterta inment package for the fest ival-a fest ival that we use to at tend as i n the role of students. Besides the appreciat ion for R & B mus ic and the legacy of good R & B players and singers that the program has tu rned out, there as we l l exits an a l umn i band , k n o w n as the R & B Conspi racy. Th is b a n d per forms at var ious professional R & B clubs i n Vancouver . The on ly area of skept ic ism seems to emanate f rom some t rad i t ional concert band teachers who , for a myr iad of reasons, quest ion the val id i ty of this p rogram. The Story of the R&B Conspiracy It had been a year since my f irst group of R & B class singers had graduated f rom Sea V iew . M o s t of the students were at tending var ious local post-secondary inst i tut ions. T w o students, Shei la I rv ing and Cyn th ia Swansburgh each independent ly v is i ted the fo l lowing year. Both gir ls bemoaned the fact that, upon graduat ion f rom Sea V i e w Secondary, they had lost their avenue of mus ica l expression. The Sea V i e w R & B B a n d Class had been an impor tan t and va lued 94 experience, but nei ther had been able to fo rm or connect w i th a b a n d since they h a d graduated. I started ref lect ing about this issue and the fact that I wasn' t p lay ing either. In fact, it had been a di f f icult t rans i t ion f rom p lay ing six nights a week to a fu l l -t ime teaching job where in your ha rd work was not often not iced. I h a d been use to a lot of recogni t ion and status. N o w , as a teacher, I made more money and had more securi ty, but I had to general ly pat mysel f on the back for my effort and results. M y o ld f r iend and mentor , Char l ie Ph i l l i ps , was real ly m iss ing p lay ing too. So to meet these var ious needs, I pu l led seven people together. Three fo rmer Sea V i e w singers wou ld f ront the band : Shei la I rv ing, Cyn th ia Swansburgh and D o n n a Lee. The d rummer ' s chai r eventual ly fel l another Sea V i e w a lumni—Casey Wh i te . Char l ie p layed H a m m o n d B3 organ a n d I p layed guitar. The group added on ly one non-Sea V i e w person—Peter Boychuk on bass guitar. It was an odd match ing of twenty-year olds w i th forty year o lds, but it worked . The "k ids " brought i n energy and image and the "o ld guys" brought i n stabi l i ty and depth of mus ica l experience. Usua l l y an age gap of twenty years precludes the success of a group, but because we had been the i r teachers, we had already establ ished a good rapport . The band started out s lowly, p lay ing free gigs and events for the West Vancouver commun i t y and school distr ict . A s our profess ional ism started to emerge, we able to start p lay ing the local professional R & B and blues rooms i n Vancouver . 95 Present ly , the band plays once or twice a mon th at the Backstage Lounge (Arts C lub Theatre), the Fa i rv iew pub , or on occasion at the Ya le . It i s h a r d to believe that we have been together for a lmost n ine years. W e have clearly g rown in to a qual i ty loca l act that has a fo l lowing. A s a teacher, I feel very p roud of this professional uni t . I see the young people i n my b a n d complet ing my educat ional v is ion—that mus ic cou ld be a reward ing hobby that it cou ld be successful ly integrated in to the f ramework of their busy professional l ives. Heroes Preamble: Heroes is a collection of narratives, poems, and reflections on the pervasive issue of heros and hero journeys. Fur thermore , we have not even to r isk the adventure alone, for the heroes of al l t ime have gone before us. The labyr in th is thoroughly k n o w n . W e have on ly to fo l low the thread of the hero path, and where we had thought to f i nd an abomina t ion , we shal l f ind a god. A n d where we thought to slay another, we shal l slay ourselves. Where we had thought to travel ou tward , we w i l l come to the center of our own existence. A n d where we had thought to be alone, we w i l l be w i th a l l the wor ld (Campbe l l , 1 9 8 8 , p.123.) Heroes : who are they? In the f irst decade of the 2 1 s t Century , the w o r d "hero" is becoming an overused word . It is on the edge of j o in ing a host of other words that, i n our wor ld of incessant sp in and hyperbole, are los ing thei r or ig ina l mean ing and force. Constant med ia use of words such as "awesome," " legendary," "v is ionary," "myth ic , " or " t rad i t ion, " to name a few, have had thei r value i n cul tura l currency made a lmost meaningless. In part, they have been dra ined of their potency by thei r use to describe th ings that they are not. 96 Despite th is , the phenomenon of "hero" is st i l l real and power fu l . To some extent, the not ion of hero has a n d w i l l always have.an impor tan t role i n the h u m a n drama. W h o qual i f ies as a hero? In the above quotat ion, Joseph Campbe l l was in t r igued w i th the hero w i th in each person. H e was also in t r igued w i th exter ior heroes that have acted as models for generat ions of cul tures throughout the wor ld . H i s exter ior work focused on myths and legends. Often, i n my format ive years, I l ooked outside of mysel f for hero ic insp i ra t ion . I sought out and mode led mysel f after others, who mani fested a deep resonance w i th m y own core values and dreams. Therefore, my approach to th is piece is f ramed by the fo l lowing def in i t ion: Heroes are people who inspi re me to reach deeper, to f ly h igher, move to a more v is ionary state and , subsequent ly, l ive a r icher l i fe. In short, my heroes are people who have catalyzed a shift of m y thoughts and values. They are people who have u l t imate ly changed m y path. W i t h i n th is context, I am interested in the fo l lowing quest ions for ref lect ion: • W h o are or have been the heroes in m y l i fe? • W h y do I see them as heroes? • H o w d id they resonate w i th me • H o w do they l ive through me? • H o w do they impact on my teaching? • A m I my yet my own hero? • W h a t is the role of present day heroes for me? A s a h u m a n who has been obsessed wi th the beauty and potent ia l o f mus ic and gui tar p lay ing, I have had many heroes. One may argue that th rough the 97 cul ture of hero and my th , the t rad i t ion of gui tar is kept al ive and passed on th rough successive generat ions of youngsters. One need only peruse the magazine racks to f i nd magazines devoted to icons of bo th mus ic and gui tar p lay ing. The not ion that mus ic ians who play gui tar cou ld be somehow bigger than life—that they cou ld k n o w th ings and have insights and w i sdom that we have yet to f ind—is just accepted as part of the gu i ta r /mus ic cul ture. I sense that th is i l lus ion stems f rom the inherent sp i r i tua l potency of the mus ic itself, for the power of mus ic on some of us is immense. M u s i c can insp i re , g round and balance us. It can support heal ing and ref lect ion. It can lead to new avenues of d i rect ion. Therefore is seems natura l to d raw spi r i tua l assumpt ions about it. I at tempt to express some of these not ions i n the fo l lowing poem, ent i t led Magician/Musician. Magician/Musician Preamble: Sometimes, but not often, I have witnessed a musical performance that is so breath -taking and deep and transcendental in nature, that I start wondering where the line lies that separates musicians from magicians and shamans. It is at times like these, the artist/hero says exactly what needs to be said at a level that profoundly resonates my core. These events, although they are very infrequent, are so overwhelming that, like an opiate, I immediately crave more. The other issue that enters my mind is the possibility that in fact there is no magic at all and that I've been duped by slight of hand into believing that there is more than meets the eye. Certainly in my life story(s), I always seem to be craving a deeper understanding than seems possible. The following poem follows a vivid memory of one of the first Vancouver concert performances of the jazz/fusion guitarist/magician Mike Stern. Stern was a member of the Michael Brecker band at the time. The performance was at the Commodore Ballroom in the late 1980's. Magician/Musician It was in the air A s soon as they counted out 98 A n d freed the f irst sounds Y o u knew, but couldn' t exp la in The feel ing That wrapped a round you l ike A w a r m blanket and conv inced you That the conversat ion between the ins t ruments W o u l d sp in a marve lous story F i l l ed w i th pass ion, intr igue, Car ing and h u m o u r w i th Each soloist b r ing ing H i s special twist to the epic By tak ing his own poetry A n d weaving it in to the sonic fabr ic O f the whole W h i c h through tonal a lchemy W o u l d convert s imple sounds Into a narrat ive so intense A n d burs t ing w i th resonance That the story wou ld Ac tua l l y g r ind to a place So deep, yet c leansing That the audience would Be left i n si lence at the end and Forced again to wrest le w i th E n o r m o u s quest ions of purpose One of the players H a d special gifts, A n or ig ina l and s tunn ing Comb ina t i on of years of technique W i t h ser ious reading and cr i t ique O f authors of mus ic past A n d th is me lded w i th f rames O f hero ic v is ion a n d tenaci ty that R ipped for th f rom his be ing as A torrent ia l ou tpour ing That started slowly, Creeping in the back porch A n d edging ever so closely A n d he captured the smel l O f the ra in just before the break A n d he made me shiver In ant ic ipat ion of the f irst Tenuous drops and I was sure that I cou ld See the thunder gray and Black c louds c i rc l ing above H i s head as the intensi ty O f h is p lay ing hera lded an Exp los ion of torrent and current A n d the audience screamed F r o m the resonance of this tale O f epic romant i c i sm A n d just when we thought That the journey was complete The soloist took us To a new level of f resh ter ra in a n d To new wor lds of unders tand ing A n d the audience exploded A n d rose to thei r feet as they A s they st ra ined to see h i m Push his head above the thunderc louds To the deafening si lence above the whi te noise Where he washed us clean A n d graced us w i th a chance To t ry again. Growing up under the Glow M y f i rst encounter w i t h "heroes" was not th rough mus ic . Instead they came through two sources, the T.V. and comic books. I was look ing for a male mentor through w h o m I cou ld mo ld myself. M y father, alas, was not this person, a l though I wou ld have loved for h i m to be. W h e n I was growing up , my father was consumed w i th d iscover ing h is own potent ial and real iz ing h is own myth . I was just v iewed as someth ing he created to please and occupy my m o m . A s my father had l i t t le interest i n me, he rarely inter-acted w i th me for any k i nd of p lay or learn ing. Wha t I do remember is that every night, when I was growing up , my father watched T .V . F r o m the moment Dad ar r ived at home un t i l bedt ime, the tube shone for th , de l iver ing its messages to both h i m and the househo ld . I w o u l d sit by h i m in 100 silence and watch and absorb a world-view and set of ethics generated by the entertainment industry. I witnessed an unending parade of heroes and goddesses from all periods of history. I summate this experience in "The Unnatural Act," a poem that I wrote in August, 2004.1 think that no one in the early 1960's really understood the impact that such an immersive T.V. experience would have on children. It seemed to be accepted as another technological miracle. (I personally am still saddened by our culture's acceptance of the programming of our children. In the video, Super-Size Me, the author states that children are exposed to approximately 10,000 messages of consumerism per year. These messages tell children what is good, bad, and cool and what they need to buy.) The Unnatural Act (A poem about T.V. in the 60's) No one knew: It seemed like a Bonanza if You loved Lucy like Jeanie like Samantha With Emma and 86 (just the flip of a switch) At the Junction of Green Acres J could never resist. I loved their perfection, their ultra mythic feminine Looks with doe eyes and cheek bones Chiseled out of granite and smiles That would take you miles to a distant planet of siren-What possible chance did I have, but, again, To be a man, a Paladin, Real Rifleman wanted Dead or Alive, A Chuck or a Steve, Clint or Gary Tallness and silence brimming with violence and fury Much too soon to define the American Male On the black and white pages of high noon. Or out of the West and into a jungle 101 O r Lost i n Space or the courts or the fumble O f fami ly l i fe, just Leave It To Beaver Capta ins K i r k and Kangaroo, C r u n c h , H o o k and Cleaver. W i t h rabbits and mice and woodpeckers too that H a d grown up i n the B ronx , r ight next to the zoo. H o w much d i d I laugh? H o w m u c h d i d I hate H o w deep these myths d i d s ink and formulate M y b ra in and assist i n the const ruct ion of b lack and whi te reduct ion That drove me and a young nat ion of over s t imulated romant ics to Rebel at the antics of a w o r l d that we real ly d idn ' t know, Tune out and o n w i th the show! I loved these T .V . shows as a boy. The cowboy/westerns and D isney revis ionist h is tor ica l dramas such as Davy Crockett spur red a l l the boys to become young cowboys. I had an arsenal of var ious toy guns and ri f les to f ight the bad guys. They were the ones who were scurr i ly dressed, unshaved, and mean. The i r s idekicks were often cast as overweight, ba ld ing , d im-wi ts w i th funny voices. I also had a toy box f i l led w i th hats of every style. I had to have the r ight hat i n order to launch in to these imaginary roles. O f course, I had to be the hero i n the b lack and whi te mora l i ty plays of my imaginat ion. The bad guys always went down and I, as symbo l of the good, s t rong, c lean, and handsome, always won . The bo t tom l ine plot of good over evi l was played out w i th sl ight var iat ions for years. But what happens if, after al l th is indoct r ina t ion and pract ice, you don' t measure up as a hero? Wha t i f you're not handsome and you have no cleft i n your Moun t i e jaw. W h a t i f you are shorter than six feet? Wha t i f you have br ight red hai r? W h a t i f (per ish the thought) you are not a tough f ighter but rather a sensit ive dreamer? 102 Another source of angst for me was the indoctrination of American standards of female beauty. The objectification of women and valuing women for what they looked like as opposed to who they were as people was a terrible lesson to be taught. For years I dated women with high cheekbones and thin waistlines. I felt trapped by these standards of beauty that were planted so deeply into my psyche. The power of the T.V. heroes faded, however, when the "British Invasion" hit the radio airwaves in early 1964 . The Heroes of the Sound Waves I had a long distance bonding with many of the music icons of the 1960 's . This new source for external heroes and mentors commenced with the North American break through of the Beatles in the early months of 1 9 6 4 . The Beatles introduced anew vitality to the entire world of pop.And with this vitality came a new relevance for young people. We all grew up with the Beatles as they themselves grew and moved from the simplicity of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" to the sophistication of "A Day in The Life." I recall eagerly anticipating each of the later Beatles' albums so my friends and I could listen to the lyrics. These cryptic messages constantly exposed me to concepts that were experientially way beyond my reach. The Lyric Heroes-Bob Dylan and John Lennon Post-modernism meets the sonic landscape. Other artists as well as the Beatles became intensely personal and reflective and relevant. It appealed to the young who were wrestling with narrow stereotypical life opportunities and values 103 that had been generated from the needs for security and stability by the previous generation-one who had survived the great depression and World War II. Pop music went from Pat Boone to Bob Dylan in the blink of an eye. Many lyricists joined the new wave, moving away from cliches and naivety to profound essays on values, change, the need for refection, a sense of place and personal growth. Dylan's lyrics in Like a Rolling Stone (Wissolik, R.D., McGrath, S., Colaianne, A . J . , 1994 ) touched some of these subjects. M y sense is that this song is about a woman who was raised in wealth and enjoyed this distinction. Her wealth provided her with great enjoyment, but seemed to shield her from growing up and into the world. When she tumbles into a new context, she is forced to re-evaluate and work with the very people that she looked down upon. It represents an incredible change from the "boy meets girl" simplicity of only a few years earlier. After detailing the young woman's fall from both grace and innocence, Dylan essentially asks what wil l happen next and how wil l one deal with it. This level of "reality" in song lyrics—one that captured the grayness and complexity of l i f e -captured the imaginations of all who heard it. Other artists reflected on spirituality and alternate philosophies. John Lennon, of the Beatles, was one of the best examples of pop artists who wrote on such issues. John wrote about the Tibetan Book of the Dead in the song, Tomorrow Never Knows. His lyrics center on the acceptance of the natural end of our life journey. John works hard to re-frame our thinking to complement the process as "love is all and love is everyone" (Womack, K., Davis, T.F: [Eds.], 2006.) These lyrics, unlike 104 the street w i sdom of Bob Dy lan , took younger people to esoteric adventures i n Eastern metaphysical ph i losophy. In the st ream-of consciousness f low of "I A m the Wa l rus , " L e n n o n b lended Eastern sp i r i tua l learn ing and drug-based ha l luc inat ions/ rea l iza t ions w i th a Dylanesque cr i t ique on Eng l i sh society and sexual norms. Lyr ica l l ines l i ke "I a m he as you are her as you are me and we are al l together" are juxtaposed w i th "Corpora t ion tee shir t , s tup id b loody Tuesday m a n " and references to " L u c y in the sky," or L S D (Womack , K., Dav is , T .F . [Eds.] , 2006.) The lyr ics are as b o l d as the st ream of consciousness style. By the late '6o's, Lennon h a d ar r ived at a special art ist ic place, where in he cou ld voice any of h is thoughts i n any l i terary style, and the whole wo r l d wou ld l is ten and try to make mean ing f r om it. Jimi Hendrix and the Guitar Heroes A l o n g w i th lyr ics, the mus ic also reflected the huge changes and growth that accompanies any major societal parad igm break through. In th is context there was noth ing ins t rumenta l ly that better demonstrated the change of values than the guitar p lay ing. Us ing a new amalgam that channeled the pass ion and vocabulary of the b lues through the f i l ter of pop aesthetic, the guitar players became the h igh "pr iests" of rock. The b lues has always been an ant i - re l ig ion in the Southern States. It was general ly v iewed as the "devi l 's mus ic , " probably because it took as many converts as the t rad i t ional Chr is t ian rel ig ions. J i m i Hendr i x , f r om Seattle (via N e w Y o r k and London) and a number of Eng l i sh guitar ists such as E r i c C lap ton , Jef f Beck, and 105 J i m m y Page, absorbed Amer i can b lues and fused it in to a h igh-powered avant-garde style that enthra l led mi l l i ons of teenagers. I was one of those teenagers. A l t hough I was not there when al l the young Toronton ians wore the in famous "C lap ton is G o d " but tons, I d i d fu l ly unders tand the message, as there is a un ique phenomenon that occurs when blues in fused solos are p layed w i th excessive pass ion. It seems that there is a b reak ing point where the pass ion pushes through the doors of normalcy to a l and of the lotus. That is to say, th rough the intensi ty, a sp i r i tua l edge arises and the mus ic starts to sound l ike a h y m n . A l l paths eventual ly lead to God? I have often wondered i f the mus ic of the '6o 's offered a path to f i l l the vo id that was be ing generated by the fa i lure of the church at the t ime. Clear ly , I was one of the new converts. In the winter of 67-68, m y heroes, E r i c C lap ton and J i m i Hendr i x , p layed in my hometown. Th is was the f irst t ime that I had actual ly seen heroes of m ine in f lesh and b lood . The experience changed my d i rect ion of gui tar p lay ing and m y l i fe forever. I started the long journey of t ry ing to play improv ised guitar l ines that w o u l d generate the t ranscendental moods of m y heroes. The work of hon ing this sk i l l cont inues today and has insp i red the fo l lowing poem. High Wire Guitar Preamble: Taking improvised solos is one of the scariest and most thrilling things that I know. From my context, it is an act of vulnerability, truthfulness and, ultimately, heroism. And it is very similar to walking a tightrope. How does one prepare? The obvious answer is to practice, but there is much more to it. With one slip you can crash and the whole edifice of emotion, intellect, soul, and aesthetic tumbles down. But when you make it.... 106 High Wire Guitar Put t ing your foot out you feel the wi re Before you wa lk on water A n d though you are very h igh In the stratosphere, there is no Net and certainly no tu rn ing back, On ly tu rn ing i nward as you Complete ly relax, O h m M a n i Padme H u m , A n d unconsc ious ly a l ign and poise Y o u r m i n d , body and sou l In absolute concentrat ion To let out your voice f rom The deepest p i t of your spir i t A s on ly the way you can W h i l e the rest of the universe Looks over your shoulders A n d f loats you up i n a Sea of teardrops f rom The B u d d h a of compass ion A n d in the b l is ter ing wh i r l i ng of the spheres Y o u tune into its tautness, Its f requency and th ickness Un t i l there is no separat ion Th rough s to rm arid st i l l You are Y o u r extension and If a l l manner of th ings have Locked themselves in to The most sacred pattern W h e n the sun makes love to the m o o n A n d the t ides ro l l backward to reveal Anc ien t sh ipwrecks and cit ies O f so long ago, yet you k n o w A n d the how l of the wo l f Becomes an ar ia of unspeakable beauty... Then you are ready Working with Heroes in Real Time A reflexive narrative on Charlie Phillips, a man in motion, and a true archetype of energy, commitment and vision M y f irst at tempts to pub l ic ly l ive and tel l m y story came through the per formance of mus ic . I p layed in fu l l t ime bands f rom 1973 un t i l 1 9 8 4 . It was s imple and natura l mus ic , w i th the biggest thr i l l be ing the improv isa t ion o f solos in the spir i t of my idols. I had never been happier . It was through my mus ic that I met and worked w i th a m a n who pro found ly insp i red and changed me. Char l ie Ph i l l i ps was the son of an Eng l i sh fami ly that l i ved and worked in Owen Sound , Ontar io . The fami ly owned and operated mov ie theatres a round the Owen Sound region. Char l ie 's father was the project ionist. Char l ie saw every movie that came through town and even h a d the luxury of pr ivate screenings of the cartoons. Char l ie grew up in a context that ha rd work was the n o r m . I remember Char l ie te l l ing me that h is whole fami ly , i nc lud ing h is grandparents wou ld gather regular ly at h is Dad 's movie house. A s soon as the patrons f rom Fr iday 's f ina l show left the theatre, the entire fami ly wou ld rush in and unscrew and remove al l the seats in the theatre. W h i l e fami ly members carr ied out the last seats, other fami ly members wou ld wash and then repaint the entire f loor. Th is is not an easy or fun job . The pop and popcorn and o ld gum st ick tenaciously to the f loor. But as paint w i l l not adhere to a d i r ty surface it was a necessary task. In the early morn ing , as the paint d r ied , the seats were brought back in and remounted in the theatre. The theatre wou ld be completely c lean and ready to funct ion in t ime for the Saturday mat inee. N o fami ly member slept at a l l . 108 They simply worked into the next day and kept going. Furthermore, no one complained. This is but one example to demonstrate boyhood experience that helped Charlie to develop a heroic frame of living. I met Charlie when I was an immature 19 year-old who was trying to put together a rock band. M y friend and bass player, W i l l Bronson, suggested that we audition a Hammond B-3 organ player who managed the bicycle shop where W i l l worked. When I met Charlie, who was 2 5 years old, the mythic proportions of the man's skills, life experiences, energy and work ethic overwhelmed me. Here was a man who was living a life-not just dreaming about it, asT was. Charlie was a university student at this time. He had left Owen Sound to attend Simon Fraser University. Prior to that, he had been on the Canadian National Ski Team. As well as this achievement, Charlie had developed a passion for aircraft and flying, and had earned his private flying license. But now the focus was on academics. In true "Phillips" style, his approach to higher education was completely over the top. The year I met Charlie, he was studying at two schools at.-the same-time. He was enrolled at U B C for a teaching certificate and he was finishing his Masters degree in community development at the University of Western Washington. He also taught a remedial reading class at SFU. He worked on the weekends as manager of the "Peddler" shops. When he decided to join us, he was maintaining a primary relationship. As a student, he did not have a lot of money and so he rode his bike everywhere (including up the SFU hi l l once a week). One of his secrets to his ability to work so much was that his hard driving psyche was connected with a fantastic metabolism that allowed him to run at full 109 energy w i th on ly four hours of sleep a night. H e c la imed that this abi l i ty was l i nked to his work ing class Br i t i sh heri tage. I had never met anyone, Br i t i sh or otherwise, l ike h i m . Besides his impressive physica l gifts, Char l ie 's character values were clear ly def ined and operat ional . W h e n Char l ie made a promise to you , it was always kept. H e was always on t ime and always cheerful and focused. C o m m i t m e n t was an impor tant not ion for Char l ie . A l l Ph i l l i ps projects were seen to their comple t ion . Char l ie despised the thought of qui t t ing. Char l ie 's style w i th people was h igh ly char ismat ic . Everyone wanted to wo rk w i th Ph i l l i ps . Char l ie had thoroughly s tudied the works o f Da le Carnegie. Th i s p rogram gave h i m the interpersonal sk i l ls to make everyone feel bo th comfortable and specia l . Moreover , it p rov ided the tools for Char l ie to pos i t ion h imse l f as an incredib le mot ivator -someth ing that w o u l d serve h i m wel l as a teacher. One of the most insp i r ing aspects of Char l ie was h is creative side. H e constant ly thought out of the box. A s a senior Geography teacher, Char l ie took h is class up glaciers. H e used h is own smal l p lane and personal ly f lew each student over the N o r t h Shore Moun ta ins whi le po in t ing out the features. H e connected w i th every single student. H e made the ch i ld ren bel ieve i n themselves by he lp ing them real ize that they were able and creative beings. Th rough example, Char l ie led them to t ry harder, d ig deeper and pu l l more out of themselves. Consequent ly , students outcomes soared upwards as d id thei r appreciat ion for Ph i l l ips . . Be ing a round a t i tan l ike this forced me to re- th ink a lot of my behaviors and values. I couldn' t help but reflect on my own issues of indecis iveness, procrast inat ion, and ineffective commun ica t ion sk i l ls . A n d I couldn' t help but 110 notice how smal l my wor l d was compared to Char l ie 's wor ld . A l t hough I knew that I cou ld never keep up w i th Char l ie , I de termined to incorporate as m u c h o f his style as possib le. Brian Fuller, an archetype of intellectual inquiry Br ian Fu l le r was the next real- t ime hero to inspi re me i n p ro found and endur ing ways. By m y late 2 0 ' s , I had succeeded i n integrat ing in to the " A " room rock mus ic commun i ty . The " A " rooms i n Vancouver were the best places to play. They were popu lar hang outs that pa id the best money for rock cover acts. A l though I had not been w i th a record ing act, I st i l l felt good about be ing a work ing professional . I was surv iv ing quite wel l and the mus ic indust ry is a very tough industry to be i n . It is very compet i t ive and has a l ow ethical th resho ld . I h a d reached this level of pro- level commerc ia l rock through a lot of ha rd work . I knew that I had to keep learn ing i f I w ished to play for the rest of m y l i fe. I dec ided to study some new styles to increase my versat i l i ty and technique. I cannot recal l how I got Br ian 's telephone number . B r i an is what is k n o w n in the trade as a " legi t -player." H i s work consisted of free-lance u n i o n jobs, pr ivate teaching and work ing at the new Vancouver C o m m u n i t y Col lege mus ic department. Br ian 's greatest strengths appeared to be h is st rong s ight- reading abi l i ty, his styl ist ic versat i l i ty, h is innate mus ica l talent, and a f irst rate intel lect. H e was recognized as a ser ious and gifted classical player, a l though a lot of h is commerc ia l work requi red h i m to play var ious electr ic styles. I l l W h e n Br ian agreed to give me lessons, I requested a length of 2 hours . The f irst hour wou ld be devoted to classical studies and the other hour to jazz. I was not versed i n ei ther style, but I felt that I shou ld be. M y earl iest recol lect ion of B r i an is that of a sm i l i ng ec tomorph ic m a n w i th large glasses—a quiet, ba lanced and reflective m a n w h o m I guessed to be about ten years o lder than myself. B r i an , h is wife, Barb , and h is two young ch i ld ren, l i ved in a beaut i fu l sect ion of Vancouver that was pos i t ioned just South of Ci ty H a l l . In the late 1970's there were a number of art ists who l i ved in this mature resident ia l area that was noted for its quiet streets and large deciduous trees that w o u l d ra in s torms of co lored leaves in the fa l l . B r i an was the th i rd son in a large fami ly of boys who grew in the academic sett ing of Berkeley Ca l i fo rn ia . H i s father, D r . J o h n A . Fu l le r , was a we l l - known sociologist i n the faculty at the Un ivers i ty of Ca l i fo rn ia , Berkeley B r i an at tended Berkeley and received a B A i n comparat ive l i terature. H i s areas of special ty were Greek and Eng l i sh l i terature. A t the same t ime, he had a love of mus ic and had developed a h igh level of sk i l l on classical and then later on jazz guitar. Mee t ing B r ian was an oppor tun i ty to exchange ideas w i th someone who grew in a very different context. To grow up under the shadow of Berkeley at a t ime when al l types of new intel lectual parad igms were be ing constructed is a rare oppor tuni ty . A n d , of course, the summer of love was 1967 and the center of the new universe was ne ighbor ing San Franc isco. B r i a n par t ic ipated i n the new mus ic scene of that t ime. 112 Un l i ke Br ian 's background , my b lue-co l lar upbr ing ing h a d absolutely no ties to Academe or a great city l ike San Franc isco. M y father was a smart , creative and ruthless surv ivor i n the wo r l d of business. M y mother was housewife. Ne i ther had ever gone to universi ty. I had about a year's wor th of undergrad arts courses that I had col lected. Bu t my in i t ia l dreams of h igher educat ion ended w h e n the U B C mus ic department in fo rmed me that they cou ld not accept me for gui tar studies as they d i d not consider classical gui tar a ser ious inst rument—a perp lex ing no t ion , as Andres Segovia, the in ternat ional star of c lassical guitar, was already an o ld m a n by this t ime. Consequent ly , when I met B r i an , I was extremely uneducated, naive fe l low who was leading a very nar row l i fe. I loved my lessons w i th B r ian . A l though , he focused on mus ic , I learned equal ly as much about l i fe f r om watch ing h i m and ask ing h i m quest ions. That is to say, the mus ic lessons acted as an entry po in t to see a bigger wor ld—one that knew l i t t le of. W h a t I d id not real ize at the t ime was that the learn ing of other styles of mus ic necessitated the learn ing of new cultures and thei r values, as mus ic is , i n general terms, one of the ma in voices of cul ture. (I learned later that one usual ly needed to embrace certain values of a cul ture i f one wishes to credib ly dialogue its music.) B r i an , th rough his connect ion and heritage to the great h is tory of Weste rn thought and values, taught me the impor tance and role of the intel lect i n mus ic that led to, among other th ings, an approach of intel lectual sensi t iv i ty and subt lety that I had previously been unaware of. In fact, th rough m y "gypsy meets rock and b lues" context, I had never real ly ref lected on the intel lectual approach to music . To this point , my mus ic va lued and accented the voice of emot ion /hear t and spir i t . 113 To use a v isua l art analogy, I was pa in t ing son ic landscapes w i th al l the p r imary colors-magni f icent reds, yel lows and blues. Th rough B r i an , I learned about grays, purples and shades between the obvious. In our conversat ions, I learned that the wor ld was a lot more complex than I was acknowledging. F o r example, as our conversat ions evolved, I became aware of my tendency to general ize. B r i an , however, was incred ib ly ret icent about mak ing sweeping statements about any subject. I learned that issues have many sides and one must careful ly consider th is before d rawing any conc lus ions. B r ian also made me comfortable w i th the not ion that not everything can be or needs to be expla ined. I owe my post-secondary educat ion to Br ian 's p rodd ing . I k n o w that I was inundat ing B r i an w i th al l manner of mus ica l quest ions. H e felt that I shou ld consider at tending Vancouver C o m m u n i t y Col lege mus ic school as he expla ined that he d i d not feel it was possible to answer a l l my quest ions i n the short t ime afforded by private lessons. B r ian was the gui tar teacher at the school and , as such , my lessons wou ld cont inue, but I cou ld attend courses i n theory, h istory, and ear t ra in ing. I fo l lowed h is recommendat ion and wa lked in to the wo r l d of h igher learn ing and eventual ly into teaching. The Impact of my Heroes on my Teaching A s I have learned so m u c h about teaching f rom so many people, I f i nd it hard to l im i t the d iscuss ion to just the inf luence of Char l ie and B r i an . W i thou t hav ing met B r i a n , however, I real ize that I probably wou ld not have become a teacher, as I wou ld not have the educat ional credent ials that I n o w possess. B r ian 114 i nsp i red me and suppor ted my endeavors to gain a degree th rough a dua l t rack school . I ended up emerg ing as a b a n d inst ructor that felt equal ly comfor table teaching c lassical , jazz, or pop music . Th is strength of d iversi ty has fo rmed the bu i ld ing b locks of my p rogram at Sea V i e w where in students have the choice to fo l low a c lassical , jazz or R & B path. B r ian also nur tured the development of my own abi l i t ies on m y guitar. I s tudied classical gui tar and f lour ished in the jazz i d i om. Th is has a l lowed me to inspi re m y students th rough my own p lay ing. I sense that the ch i ld ren k n o w that I a m a "real p layer" as wel l as a teacher and th is gives me a lot of credib i l i ty . Cred ib i l i ty translates in to respect and respect that is earned is a key ingredient to successful teaching. I a m sure that it is i n part th rough Br ian 's example that I have mov ing into graduate work. A number of years ago, B r i an re turned to school and earned h is P h D . H e now teaches at U B C in the classics department. It seemed to be a natura l evolut ion. I phoned h i m when I enro l led. H e was very happy for me. Char l ie was a h igh school teacher for 2 7 years. H e was an outs tanding example for me. H e even conv inced the West Vancouver school boa rd to take a chance on me as a mus ic teacher at Sea V i e w secondary where he was teaching. W h e n he moved out of geography and started teaching d rama , we co-wrote and produced four or ig ina l musica ls for the schoo l . (See "The Blues Brothers-a Mus ica l . " ) I t r ied and st i l l cont inue to try to incorporate his level of Commi tment , v is ion , and energy to my pedagogy. A n d l ike h i m , I work ha rd to make the ch i ld ren feel special and empowered. 115 On Becoming (My Own Hero?) Char l ie and B r ian represented two of my biggest mentors. But , l ike every other h u m a n , I a m constant ly be ing exposed to new ideas and ways of be ing and I st i l l absorb and incorporate ideas and behaviors that cou ld potent ia l ly work for me. C o m i n g back to school is assist ing this process. I have met and been chal lenged by a wonder fu l complement of professors and students. I thr ive on th is. But as an adul t male w i th a fami ly , educat ion, and seventeen years of teaching experience, I respond di f ferent ly than I d id as a young m a n . I k n o w that these real t ime heroes prov ided me w i th learn ing that I was not able to g leam f rom m y father or my home. I somet imes v iew these real t ime heroes as surrogate fathers. There reached a point , however, when I real ized that I had to become m y own man . I h a d been very open to these men , but it was t ime for me to become m y own hero. It w o u l d require two impor tant psychological steps: f irst, I wou ld have to learn to l is ten and trust my o w n heart and senses. Secondly, I needed to part ic ipate more actively i n the real wor ld . A n d so I consciously dec ided to start s tand ing on my own and developing my own sense of self. To an extent, I have integrated and grown-up. A l t hough I don' t see mysel f as a " H e r o , " per se, I l is ten to my own voice and constant ly work on be ing true to whoever I am at any given t ime. I perceive my Master 's p rogram as an impor tan t t ransformat ional act. I have a l i fe goal and commi tmen t to un fo ld my potent ia l physical ly , emot ional ly , menta l ly , art ist ical ly, and spir i tual ly . By developing mysel f th rough the chal lenges of a graduate degree, I am st r ik ing out on one of the last neglected front iers. I love 116 it. I w i l l savour it. I w i l l bi te the experience to the bone. In do ing so, I w i l l release the hero in me. People say that what we're al l seeking is a mean ing for l i fe. I don' t th ink th is is what we're real ly seeking. I th ink that what we're seeking is an experience of be ing al ive, so that our l i fe experiences on the pure ly phys ica l p lane w i l l have resonances w i th in our o w n innermost be ing and reali ty, so that we actual ly feel the rapture of be ing al ive (Campbe l l , 1988, p.5.) 117 Section III An Analysis of the Renderings Reflections on the A/r/tographic Process A l though it evolved organical ly , the process i n wr i t ing my thesis surpr ised me in its consistent, r i tual ized approach. The poetry and narrat ives always came out f irst. In part, th is was a conscious decis ion to free the poetry f rom the art ist ic shackles that are imposed on song lyr ics. H a v i n g wr i t ten numerous songs over the years, I was concerned that poetry w o u l d be subjugated to the l im i ts of the mus ica l phrases. I also feared that I might wor ry more about issues o f rhyme and such , rather than d ig i n and wri te my best poetry. In short , I wanted poet ic content to t r i umph over issues of fo rm. A l though colleagues i n the language arts may disagree, I f i nd the creat ion of mus ic to be more supple and adaptable than poetry. F r o m m y perspect ive, the poetry d i d not inh ib i t the mus ic as much as it acted as a catalyst for sonic expression. M u s i c a l expression—unl ike poetry, a h igh ly concentrated and , therefore, fragi le art form—seems to be able to effortlessly wrap a round a var iety of poetic fo rms and intensi fy the poet ic content i n sub l ime ways. In terms of r i tua l ized process, I wrote a l l the poetry i n our home study space. P r io r to wr i t ing the poetry, I wou ld attempt to reach the site of the arat ional th rough medi ta t ion. A t best, the meditat ive process wou ld th row me into a state of p ro found clar i ty or, at worse, ca lm down some of the noisy chatter i n my b ra in . One may refer to the poem, The Goddess of Innovation, for metaphor ic insights into that process. Th is place of p ro found s i lence/ in tu i t ive know ing wou ld usual ly 118 predicate the emergence of a top ic or a l ine or a hook into a poem. A t that point , I wou ld t r y /no t t ry to unwr i te /wr i te a poem by a l lowing as many ideas as possib le to surface before my analyt ical b ra in became act ivated. M y rat ional intel l igence wou ld be very impor tant for the f ine- tun ing after the soul of the poem was released. To quote mysel f f r om the Fable of the Sculptor,"... the path is n o w clear-release the deep intui t ive feel ing f irst and then reflect and respond th rough intel l igence and observer aesthetics." Fo r me, there was a need for arat ional and rat ional creat iv i ty to emerge f r om this process. M y efforts were di rected at tapp ing into the in tu i t i ve /ara t iona l space f irst, i n order to release deeper issues and al l of their requisi te pass ion a n d feel ings. M y rat ional m i n d then reviewed, focused, and c lar i f ied these d i rected feel ings. The rat ional review and edi t ing process w o u l d carry on for a per iod of t ime. C o m i n g back to a poem at a later date often a l lowed me to see the poem f r om a new perspective. There w o u l d reach a point , however, where the poem was fa i r ly f in ished. That sa id , I don' t th ink it ever ends, but I wou ld then start to compose the music . Compos ing mus ic is a process that I love. F i nd i ng the "r ight" notes to express my feel ings has consistent ly been a fu l f i l l ing process. I had a makeshi f t studio i n a downsta i rs room of our house where I had access to m y gui tars, keyboards, and a Gs/Pro Tools system to faci l i tate the compos i t ion and record ing of the mus ic . The compos i t iona l process paral le ls the wr i t ing process i n that I w o u l d usual ly meditate, read the poem, and then a l low the mus ic to rise up th rough the arat ional . One of the f irst determinants or unconsc ious decis ions I w o u l d make was 1 1 9 to address the m o o d and p ick an appropr iate tempo. Of ten, I w o u l d not be aware of th is step, hav ing already made it at some intui t ive level . Instead, mus ic w o u l d come out of my f ingers and heart. W h e n the process is going we l l , it feels l ike the f ingers are p lay ing themselves—indeed, I feel more l ike an observer than a w i l l fu l creator. A s w i th the wr i t ing process, m y rat ional m i n d w o u l d be used to reflect u p o n , clari fy, and focus the mus ic ideas, once the in i t ia l intu i t ive impu lse had been expressed. The change f rom arat iona l / in tu i t ive process to ra t iona l /contextua l centered th ink ing process is best thought of th rough the analogous mode l of a con t i nuum, w i th these two processes at either end. It is certainly not an "e i ther /o r " p ropos i t ion . A t any given t ime, I sense that I a m located i n a dr i f t between these two extremes. M y mus ica l expression was also subject to numerous reviews and edits. A s I was the on ly player invo lved, I had to layer o n ins t rumenta l and vocal t racks one at a t ime. A g a i n , each track requi red bo th insp i ra t ion a n d ref lect ion. In general , my record ing of spoken performances of poetry and stories was a di f f icult process. Professor Leggo's pub l ic readings of h is poetry have been a constant source of insp i ra t ion. Poets embrace the not ion of per formance poetry as a means to fur ther release mean ing f rom poetry. I found , to my d ismay, that I have neither the requisi te sk i l l set, nor the t imbre of voice to del iver m y poetry to the level of sat isfact ion that I realize f rom my mus ica l per formances. I was tempted to ask someone else to per form a reading of my poetry, but I k n o w that it is my poetry and that I must learn to present it. 120 The Opening of the Golden Flower— the Mirage of Epiphany Eastern metaphysics refers to the no t ion of open ing the golden f lower. Th i s concept is a metaphor for yet another metaphor about the awaken ing of the t h i rd eye or the awakening of enl ightenment i n oneself. The adventure o f awaken ing through the journey of m y master 's degree has been inv igorat ing yet d iscouraging, expansive yet embarrass ing, fu l f i l l ing yet empty w i th unanswered quest ions. Perhaps, quest ions never real ly change. Perhaps, it is just the shift i n perceptual and intel lectual context that creates a mirage of epiphany. In a house of perceptual m i r ro rs , I have moved forward, backward , or stayed in the same place. A rguments can be made for any of these posi t ions. A number of recurr ing themes have surfaced i n my arat ional wr i t ings. These themes were chosen for their f requency w i th in var ious wr i t ings and were due to the emot iona l weight they carry for me. The content o f the themes range wide ly as art i f ic ia l l ines b lu r between my roles as art ist, teacher, researcher. I have selected seven major themes to reflect upon . Personal context and context fo rmat ion • Heroes (creat ion, demise, and prob lems wi th) and aspirat ions • Regrets • Anger w i th the preva i l ing cul ture • N e w beginnings • The impor tance of A r t i s t i c /T ranscenden t /A ra t iona l spaces • Ref lect ions and in t imate looks into the fo rm and funct ion of educat ional landscape 121 Personal context and contextual formation A seemingly d isproport ionate amount of my wr i t ing seems l i nked to an awareness of personal context, its creat ion, and rami f icat ions (i.e., The Master Frame, The Unnatural Act, The Hi-fi, I am Guitar, I am Starting (to Lose), I've (Em)braced, and The Story of Finding My Path). By personal context, I refer to a not ion of who I th ink I a m and the values, bel iefs, ethics, and pr ior i t ies—conscious or otherwise—that I ho ld w i th in me that direct h o w I interpret phenomena in m y l i fe. The topic of personal context and creat ion of a f rame or lens of reference is direct ly addressed in The Master Frame. The arr iva l of our daughter, Em i l y , gave me great cause to reflect upon m y impact on the fo rmat ion of her values and bel iefs. A n d l i ke many f irst t ime fathers, I want to do a good job , but it is someth ing new to me. A n d be ing very keen, yet a l l the same Lack ing real experience, we fo l low the p lans Very s lowly and careful ly, check ing the lay of the l a n d I am very conscious that her col lect ion and re-col lect ion of our activi t ies w i l l shape her. A n d I am also aware of the textual sub-plot I can run dur ing these activit ies where I can discuss issues of impor tance. She passes me the wood and the s id ing A n d w i th the greatest pa ins, ho lds the beams steady for The Master F rame as I measure and penc i l and P o u n d the nai ls in to the wal lboards as wel l as Into the story board of her my th for we talk Incessantly and work co-operat ively to raise a structure and A cohesive env i ronment not only out of W o o d and paper and nai ls but of dreams and schemes and 122 Values that often prevai l i n my own Maste r F rame M y preoccupat ion w i th how one looks and agendizes or colours phenomena becomes st i r red when I am wi th E m i l y because it makes me th ink about how l i t t le m y father was invo lved in my l i fe. Indeed, th is a / r / tog raph ic process has made me realize that I st i l l carry f rustrat ion due to the lack of par t ic ipat ion f rom m y father w i th my development. In many ways, the T V was m y f irst surrogate father and purveyor o f my th , r i tua l , t rad i t ion, and values. I f i nd it s tunning ly i ron ic that I was be ing shaped by the values and agenda of corporate Un i t ed States of A m e r i c a whi le m y real D a d sat and watched beside me in a near-comatose state of non-react ion. Later , as an adul t I wou ld have to deal w i th a l l th is commerc ia l p rog ramming of m y taste and pr ior i t ies. It seemed harmless at the t ime, but u l t imate ly the act of da i ly T V v iewing rooted w i th in me a core set of bel iefs and approach to l i fe that I have had to spend years wrest l ing out o f my consciousness. H o w m u c h d id I laugh? H o w m u c h do I hate H o w deep these myths d i d s ink and formulate M y b ra in and assist i n the construct ion of b lack and whi te reduc t ion ism That drove me and a young nat ion of over s t imulated romant ics to Rebel at the antics of a wor ld that we real ly d idn ' t know, Tune out and on w i th the show! ( f rom The Unnatural Act) Unknowing ly , my father a l lowed te levis ion to develop a s igni f icant part of m y nascent contextual f rame. H e also purchased, for h is enter ta inment, a wonder fu l h i - f idel i ty record player. But h is mus ic of choice, the w i l d Eastern 1 2 3 European gypsy and other ethnic mus ic fo rms, hooked me o n the t remendous magica l effect that mus ic can have on me. M y emot ions and body were k idnapped and forced to r ide th is sonic ro l ler coaster. It was as i f the mus ic cou ld somehow charge up m y whole system. Perhaps we cou ld b lame it on my genetics, but , for whatever reason, th is mus ic f ound its way to the very core of my be ing. It just about drove me crazy. I wou ld s lowly sway to the mourn fu l open ing theme, (there is always sor row i n any gypsy piece of mer i t ) , and then, uncont ro l lab ly , I wou ld have to dance as the tempo accelerated. I was t rans fo rmed into a mar ionet te and the mus ic was the master puppeteer. A s the band w o u l d rocket to a "Pres to" tempo I w o u l d be forced to run , non-s top, i n circles th rough the rooms of the house. Th is crazy puppet dance w o u l d cont inue un t i l the t r iumphant f in ish had me col lapsing into a chair , breathless and sweat ing profusely, ( f rom The Hi-Fi) I am Guitar is a poem concerned w i th the impor tance of mus ica l self-expression at the other end of my l i fe con t i nuum. It comes out of a defensive posture about my need/want to have some dai ly pract ice t ime, hence, the mant ra- l i ke ref ra in that keeps bu i l d ing : I a m gui tar It w i l l not go away A n d . . I am guitar It w i l l not go away, It w i l l not go away... A n d f i n a l l y . . . I a m guitar It w i l l not go away It w i l l not go away U n t i l I do The personal benefi ts are huge. 124 The guitar has soothed me, chal lenged me, Del ighted me and grounded me Throughout a l l the many chal lenges That I have endured i n th is somet imes Lumpy , sad c lown Plane of existence. It has suppor ted me through var ious jobs, Bo r ing rout ines, m ind-deaden ing s i tuat ions, Over-work , and negative people. It has l is tened to me ta lk through The accelerat ion of Ever -chang ing experiences, Relent less chal lenges, The coming and go ing of re lat ionships, A n d of balance w i th in mysel f Somehow it has always he lped keep me in check, The magni tude of its experience, Its potent ia l and intel lectual and emot iona l palette hav ing n o w Unde rp i nned m y whole point of v iew, M y entire value system. A n d so the l ines between "gui tar" and "I" have b lu r red The poem closes w i th the not ion of re -commi tment . A n d i f the archetype of tragedy Ro l ls over me and Decimates a l l that I have worked So ha rd for and Destroys my fami ly , M y core, A n d br ings me to m y knees, b l i n d and c r ipp led In a pathet ic heap of crushed human i ty I w i l l c rawl on hands and knees To f i nd my gui tar to cry through A n d though it w i l l not offer so lu t ion, It w i l l give some solace and self-ref lect ion because I a m guitar It w i l l not go away It w i l l not go away 125 U n t i l I do Thus this poem enables me to reveal and evaluate the impact of gui tar i n my l i fe w i th the hopes o f conferr ing that a l l boundar ies between mysel f and the ins t rument have vapor ized—we have entangled to the po int of oneness. Iam Starting (to Lose) was wr i t ten a round the mid -po in t of m y Master 's journey. W i t h i n the poem are the seeds of change and potent ia l t rans format ion and the conscious real izat ion that these changes were imminen t . It is in tended that the t i t le be read twice, as i n J am Starting, and I am Starting to Lose i n order to convey closure as we l l as new beginnings. I start by quest ioning why I d i d th ings i n the past and i n this sense, can be cons idered a precursor to the poems of regret (i.e., The Fable of Regret and Driving with no Hands). I am starting to lose Jus t why I d i d a l l those th ings; W h y i n youth I ra i led and c lamored so passionately F o r f reedoms that were already sa id to be and W h y I coveted and consp i red, adorned and d isp layed and Danced to a mus ic that somet imes on ly existed i n my head. I also examine the need to move away f rom m y heroes and move in to a state of accept ing myself. J am starting to lose A l l my heroes A s a t ide of democrat izat ion rol ls i n A n d levels the p lay ing f ie ld Into a l i qu id f lowing mass W a s h i n g me clean and Freeing me f rom the v ic t imiza t ion of Needs to prove and 126 Needs to be accepted.. A n d as a result of this natura l let t ing-go, I f ind mysel f mov ing into a new state of becoming. I s tand naked and not car ing Dis interested a n d d isconnected, yet Passionately involved. . . H o w can th is be? Change is i n the air... I am becoming The fool on the h i l l The inv is ib le one, the crazy m a n , Ta lk ing to h imse l f - • . ' Reve l ing i n h is own jokes Yet , at the same t ime, I a m hear ing N e w symphonies of l i v ing A n d concertos i n the once cacophonous tumb le O f confus ion A n d I a m prepar ing To be myself... I've (Em)braced is both m y open ing and c los ing piece, and is , essential ly, an art ist ic abstract of the research i n th is thesis. It can be v iewed as a t ight ly compressed personal inventory set of contextual shifts—a paradox ica l and di f f icul t assessment of a l l the roles and att i tudes and themat ic obsessions that I have assumed and consumed. It is both confessional and cathart ic i n is nature. It is one of the latest poems that I have wr i t ten and its s igni f icance lays in its honesty and comprehensive nature. Fo r so many years, I have wrapped mysel f i n the bel ie f that I essential ly a "good" m a n , and perhaps I a m , but through this poem I a m at tempt ing to embrace, or at least acknowledge al l of myself , bo th good and bad . The f irst verse l ists a series of psychological masks that I've wo rn . The te rm (Em)braced imp l ies that I loved some of these roles and how, in retrospect, I've had to brace mysel f i n order to admi t to other roles. The masks twist themselves 127 in to sel f -cr i t ic iz ing and judg ing my somet imes annoy ing propensi ty to judge others as we l l as myself. I've (Em)braced Prankster , C o n M a n , L ia r , Lover , H u s b a n d , Father , T(h) inker(er) , Imposter, Preposterous Ly ing i n judgment ! The poem also contains a themat ic overv iew of a l l the work that has surfaced i n the last couple years, du r ing my re turn to universi ty. In the second verse, I touch on three recurr ing themes: the impor tance of the arat ional , m y personal struggles w i th Western cul ture, co lon ia l i sm, a n d the no t ion of regret. Yet Somet imes No t of this W o r l d A s my eyes ro l l backward and the j aw drops... Mys t i c systemic, pathet ic and regretful Keeper of car toon consciousness, M y feet b l is ter on the hyper-heated asphal t O f Wes te rn reali ty, I never learn St i l l Mys t i f i ed by the rar i f ied M i rac le o f hope(lessness) The th i rd part of the poem sets up a series of d ialect ical b inar ies to demonstrate the w id th , breadth, depth and paradoxica l mu l t i -d imens iona l i t y of m y character. Fr ightened ch i ld and o ld m a n I a m Penis crossed w i th penance Son of Zo r ro and Nosferatu , 128 (Anti) . . . Chr is t , I w ish I knew! The four th part of the poem cr i t ical ly reviews the theme of m y role as a researcher and educator and the mirage of knowledge/ep iphany. Saint or s inner, Cer ta in ly Foo l on the h i l l of the Academy of Power , pol i t ics and lost souls, L i m i n a l Transgressor i n the apor ia of F o u n d and lost (again) I see The oasis or just another mirage?.. . The poem closes on an upbeat note that somet imes I can t ranscend m y o w n mudd le and work in service for others. Meanwh i le the B u d d h a of Compass ion pours Rivers of tears th rough me as I look at p ictures of M y daughter Because Somet imes I k n o w To look above mysel f Heroes Ano the r prevalent theme i n m y wr i t ing has been the concept of heroes— thei r creat ion, thei r demise, and the prob lems associated w i th the cul t of personal i ty . The creat ion and eulogiz ing of both genders of heroes can be found in the poem, The Unnatural Act. A s a ch i ld , immersed in a m i l i eu of b lack and whi te reduc t ion ism, a l l screen starlets became goddesses or archetypes of beauty and char isma. 129 I loved their perfect ion, thei r u l t ra myth ic femin ine Looks w i th doe eyes and cheek bones Chise led out of granite and smi les That wou ld take you mi les to a distant planet of s i ren-What possible chance did I have... I saw the male images as direct examples of perfect ion—indeed, what I needed to g row to become. To be a m a n , a Pa lad in , Real R i f l eman wanted Dead or A l i ve , A Chuck or a Steve, C l in t or Gary Tal lness and si lence b r i m m i n g w i th v io lence and fury M u c h too soon to define the A m e r i c a n M a l e O n the b lack and whi te pages of h igh noon . M o s t of m y l i fe I have tended to embrace var ious hero ic f igures. E v e n when I returned to school for my graduate work , I embraced a new type of hero—the academic hero. The poem Big People was wr i t ten after I had been inv i ted to attend a meet ing w i th the a / r / tog raphy group. I was very impressed w i th the power and intensi ty of the intel lectual energy that surfaced at this meet ing. Th is poem direct ly talks about these new mentors, albeit i n a p layfu l sett ing, that makes use of the layers of mean ing and double entendres that poet ical ly exist w i th in language. B ig people often run Through the cracks for the borders and Stay up al l n ight to seize the day because B ig people have great v is ion Even i f they leave the i r glasses at home Fo r they peer through a lens That has been g round and po l ished By years of ep isodic narrat ives A n d reflective cal ls and responses That turns outward i n A n d in so out 1 3 0 A s to the diversi ty of the professors at the a / r / tog raphy mean ing , I wr i te : B ig people cannot be bot t led or Labeled, categorized or den ied D ismissed , re-mi f fed or qual i f ied Except by those who miss the boat A s it leaves fo r adventure is lands remote O h how I love b ig people! A l though my f irst heroes were T V screen actors and m y present heroes are more l ike ly to be f ound w i th in the academy, by far, m y mus ica l hero-gui tar ists have made the most s igni f icant impress ion to date. A part of me has always wanted to bel ief i n magic and I have always savoured the in -dwe l l ing of the spir i t . In the rea lm of mus ic , I have never been able to clearly differentiate between a few breath- tak ing, t ranscendenta l mus ica l per formances that I have wi tnessed and the no t ion of magic. A n d , as I have t rouble separat ing magic f rom spir i t , these h igh ly in f requent art ist ic per formances resonate at such a sub l ime level , that its effect on me is the p roduc t ion of an al tered experience. A l l paths lead to G o d but some paths are a l i t t le quicker . In the sixt ies, a lot of mus ic came out of the blues. It was morphed into a new hyb r id f o rm when it 's basic fo rm and vocabulary was musica l ly me lded w i th h igh-powered rock and ro l l and over-the-top emot ions. W h e n J i m i Hend r i x poured his heart out th rough th is context, the result was mus i c /mag i c that touched sacred places and took audiences to t ranscendental heights. 131 To some extant, th is psychedel ic sacrament has been lost as popu la r cul ture has moved onto other topics l ike power, mater ia l acqu is i t ion, and so on . A n d , w i th aging, m y own context has changed. I'm not as easi ly impressed as I was when I was younger as I a m much better at d iscern ing between a sl ight of h a n d and pro found experience. In Magician/Musician, I ta lk about the real th ing. I men t ion that even the m o o d and feel ing was different. Somet imes, one can sense a special evening. It was in the air A s soon as they counted out A n d freed the f irst sounds Y o u knew, but couldn' t exp la in The feel ing That wrapped a round you l ike A w a r m blanket and conv inced you That the conversat ion between the ins t ruments W o u l d sp in a marve lous story F i l l ed w i th pass ion, intr igue, Car ing and h u m o u r Each player w o u l d contr ibute to the construct ion of this aura l edif ice of the gods: w i th Each soloist b r ing ing H i s special twist to the epic By tak ing his own poetry A n d weaving it in to the sonic fabr ic O f the whole W h i c h through tonal a lchemy W o u l d convert s imple sounds Into a narrat ive so intense A n d burs t ing w i th resonance That the story wou ld Ac tua l l y g r ind to a place So deep, yet c leansing That the audience would Be left i n si lence at the end and Forced again to wrest le w i th E n o r m o u s quest ions df purpose 132 But one player rose above the others to take the audience over the edge. One of the players H a d special gifts, A n or ig ina l and s tunn ing Comb ina t i on of years o f technique W i t h ser ious reading and cr i t ique O f authors of mus ic past A n d this me lded w i th f rames O f hero ic v i s ion and tenacity that R ipped for th f rom his be ing as A torrent ia l outpour ing That started slowly, Creeping in the back porch A n d edging ever so closely A n d he captured the smel l O f the ra in just before the break A n d he made me shiver In ant ic ipat ion of the f irst Tenuous drops and I was sure that I cou ld See the thunder gray and Black c louds c i rc l ing above H i s head as the intensi ty O f h is p lay ing hera lded an Exp los ion o f torrent and current A n d I was not alone in recogniz ing this moment . A n d the audience screamed F r o m the resonance of th is tale O f epic romant i c i sm A n d just when we thought That the journey was complete The soloist took us To a new level of fresh terra in and To new wor lds of unders tand ing A n d the audience exploded A n d rose to their feet as they 133 A s they st ra ined to see h i m Push his head above the thunderc louds To the deafening si lence above the whi te noise Where he washed us c lean A n d graced us w i th a chance To t ry again. Natura l ly , as a mus ic ian , I am a wou ld-be-mag ic ian as I aspire to play at a level that supports an audience to t ranscend our seemingly physica l real i ty. W h i l e Magician/Musician is a poem f rom the audience's v iew point , High Wire Guitar is a v iew f r om the other side—the feelings and process that a mus ic ian might take to move to the next level . It starts w i th a mus ic ian tak ing an improv ised solo. The di f f icul ty, poise, and att i tude needed to improv ise draws an analogy to wa lk ing a t ightrope. Put t ing your foot out you feel the wi re Before you walk on water A n d though you are very h igh In the stratosphere, there is no Net and certainly no tu rn ing back, On ly tu rn ing i nward as you Complete ly relax, O h m M a n i Padme H u m , A n d unconsc ious ly a l ign and poise Y o u r m i n d , body and soul In absolute concentrat ion To let out your voice f rom The deepest pi t of your spir i t A s on ly the way you can W h i l e the rest of the universe Looks over your shoulders A n d f loats you up in a Sea of teardrops f rom The B u d d h a of compass ion In a great solo there is always a loss of self in to the total concentrat ion of the now. A n d in the b l is ter ing wh i r l i ng of the spheres 134 Y o u tune into its tautness, Its f requency and th ickness U n t i l there is no separat ion Through s to rm and st i l l You are Y o u r extension O course, there can be external or unconsc ious factors that can l im i t Or a l low the successful crossing into the inf in i te now. If a l l manner of th ings have Locked themselves in to The most sacred pat tern W h e n the sun makes love to the m o o n A n d the t ides ro l l backward to reveal Anc ien t sh ipwrecks and cit ies O f so long ago, yet you k n o w A n d the how l of the wo l f Becomes an ar ia of unspeakable beauty... Then you are ready Regrets A r is ing theme in my later years has been the regular ly occur r ing issue of regret. A s is the nature w i th regrets, these regrets f requent ly center on choices that I made years ago that are now impact ing or restr ict ing my present set of opt ions. T h e y certainly seem to fal l out of a m i n d set that for years embraced overt hero ism and romant i c i sm. The passing of my father i n August of 2 0 0 5 in tensi f ied th is type of th ink ing . H i s death clearly del ineated the passage of t ime and reminded me of my l im i ted t ime in this mater ia l real i ty. In the poem The Fable of Regret, I t ry to subvert that type of th ink ing to enable me to move on and l ive in the present. The metaphor of a snake, a co ld-b looded repti le w i th a forked-tongue, addresses me i n th is fable. 135 Yes, I have observed that A s you have grown older A n d deeper i n the seat Of your true self Y o u have also cognized That your demise is Rac ing to catch you A n d your own story Is be ing etched i n stone Fo r t ime eternal A n d you are fast los ing Cont ro l of your dest iny A n d especial ly any reso lu t ion O f your messy stories O f unrea l ized glory I a m the Snake of Regret W h o l ives and thr ives O n your f rust rat ion W i t h the f ini te aspect O f your short v is i ta t ion Into this earthly vessel A n d w i th your misunders tandings O f the very nature O f h u m a n learning's. I batt le the snake through embrac ing regret as a measurement o f m y progress in th is adventurous l i fe. I exp la in it thus: Regret then, for me, Is an af f i rmat ion A n d a measure That indeed, I have succeeded In mov ing mysel f fo rward A n d t ru ly grown Through the years. A n d so, rather than fear, I choose to feast on regret A s the on ly t rue test O f my growth as a h u m a n . 136 Driving with No Hands was wr i t ten after a real and v iv id ly intense experience—a f lashback of feel ings f rom my youth that I encountered one day as I drove the long commute f rom work to home. And for some reason on this special day The sun connected w i th me so strongly That I longed to pu l l out a cha in saw A n d cut off the entire roof of m y o ld h o u n d dog car A n d , l ike Brother Jake , when he saw the L ight , J too wanted to jump cartwheels And drive again with no hands F o r it gave me a feel ing that I had forgotten-A feel ing so specia l , so sacred, so l i fe a f f i rming That I wanted to weep at h o w E m p t y I H a d Become.. . Driving with No Hands is a celebrat ion of l i fe, youth , and naive honesty. It is a commentary on how, to some extent we al l get derai led and dance w i th regret as we age w i th in the parad igm of society. T e n years later W h e n the adventure Came to its end A n d I became " n o r m a l " again, It took me years to come off The adrenal ine- i t was l ike hero in A n d for l i fet imes after I wa lked the streets L ike a pr isoner O f the sett ing sun Crav ing the rush and the release A n d the recogni t ion A n d never seeming to score Enough to appease my mind . . . 137 A n d it never reconci led It just faded in t ime W i t h the avalanche of responsib i l i ty That fo l lows f i t t ing into society U n t i l th is moment when In the b l ink of and eye I was taken r ight back To the t ime when I cou ld f ly A n d dr ive w i th no hands. Anger/alienation with the prevailing culture Driving with No Hands touches on m y anger and a l ienat ion w i th the prevai l ing cul ture. In this poem, I refer to the m i n d - n u m b i n g experience of the evening commute home. I ronical ly, our home is s i tuated i n a suburban ne ighborhood that is composed of people w i th whose values I have no commonal i ty . It is a pseudo-sanctuary, as m y fami ly l ives there, but we struggle w i th any sense of integrat ing w i th the commun i ty . Fo r as I drove home today, Deep i n the gr id and lock of 9 to 5 Eat ing the fumes and curs ing buf foons In a panic to get off the tar Fo r domest ic abyss i n my l i t t le house i n the sub W i t h its 70's b ig engine t ime warp and Neighbors who are whi te-r ight of A r n o l d , I was amazed to see the sun burst th rough The heavens and bless al l the pr isoners O f the commute A l though there is a clear d is ta in for my present l i fe i n th is poem, my own sense of a l ienat ion and personal reject ion certainly haunted me du r ing the f i rst ha l f of my l i fe. It seems direct ly t ied to a search for purpose and mean ing and ul t imately to the revelat ion of dreams and values through art ist ic sel f -expression. I have often wondered why I bel ieved that l i fe shou ld offer more. Reciprocal ly , I 138 wondered why I shou ld offer someth ing special back to l i fe th rough some hero ic accompl ishment . A n d so, a lack of acceptance of l i fe, as it is i n th is t ime and place, and a lack of accept ing my own normal i t y has been an ongoing issue. I r e m i n d mysel f of the w o m a n I depicted i n the Master Frame. I heard about a w o m a n who grew up in a house of r iches f ramed w i t h bel iefs O f super ior i ty on ly to f i nd that a tu rn of events pushed her into a l i fe of Constant struggle ins ide a new dream w i th a m a n of modest means A n d there she raised a fami ly but was never able fo return To her or ig ina l H o m e Frame w i th its Af f luence and Connect ions and as a result she d ivorced hersel f F r o m her very own l i fe for she saw her l i fe A s a fai lure as she cou ld not re-conceive H e r Mas te r F rame to accommodate A different context and So she inva l idated Everything... Perhaps m y "house of r iches f ramed w i th bel iefs of super ior i ty ," was the metaphor ic context of te lev is ion wh ich replaced the vacuum of late 'so's suburban l i fe w i th stories of adventure and hero ic accompl ishment . Perhaps my need for a special l i fe is a symp tom of the damage incur red by watch ing too m u c h te levis ion at a very impress ionable age. A l l those cowboy shows o f the late 50's cut deeply into my psyche. To be a m a n , a Pa lad in , Real R i f l eman wanted Dead or A l i ve , A Chuck or a Steve, C l in t or Gary Tal lness and si lence b r i m m i n g w i th v io lence and fury M u c h too soon to define the A m e r i c a n M a l e O n the b lack and whi te pages of h igh noon . A m I, as a guitarist, a metaphor ic gunsl inger? D o I seek adventures and per formance chal lenges on the mus ica l f ront ier? 139 In the last ten years, I have worked ha rd at integrat ing mysel f w i th the var ious communi t ies through wh ich I come i n contact. I have enjoyed some success i n connect ing w i th my peers, the teaching staff at work . Twenty -odd years ago, as a new teacher, I had t rouble relat ing to other teachers. I h a d become a teacher at such a late age (36), and I carr ied such a un ique personal agenda f r om years o f non- teaching adventures. Consequent ly , I felt dif ferent and indeed, I was very dif ferent f r om most of my colleagues at that t ime. One clear tu rn ing po int that assisted in m y integrat ing in to the teaching commun i t y and the w o r l d at large has been the arr iva l of our daughter, E m i l y , i n M a y of 1 9 9 8 . New Beginnings The not ion of new beginnings is on ly touched u p o n i n th is series of poems. These poems symbol ize the actual process of mov ing to a pos i t ion of acceptance and courage to rec la im my own , authent ic voice. A s I wrote th rough these poems and as I wrote mus ic to enhance them, m y voice started to re-mani fest itself. But th is work and th is document are more clearly about the process as opposed to the results. I h in t at the future and what I a m to become in the poem, / am Starting (To Lose). I am becoming The fool on the h i l l The inv is ib le one, the crazy m a n , Ta lk ing to h imse l f Revel ing in h is own jokes Yet , at the same t ime, I am hear ing N e w symphonies of l i v ing A n d concertos in the once cacophonous tumb le O f confus ion A n d I am prepar ing To be myself... 140 (The Importance of) Artistic/Transcendent/Arational spaces M y condui t to mysel f and to new beginnings has always been th rough Ar t i s t i c /T ranscenden t /A ra t i ona l spaces. One of m y f irst poems, How Old? a l ludes to the t imeless qual i ty of this site of knowledge. Sudden , unexpected t ranscendence can be very dramat ic . By unexpected, I do not mean the type of act ions or r i tuals, l i ke medi ta t ion, that are specif ical ly pract iced for th is experience. I a m ta lk ing about t imes when we are al l just l i v ing our l ives and we momenta r i l y step out of ourselves. Fo r example, I have sat on a beach at sunset and the sheer beauty of the experience has catapul ted me in to a rapture that made me feel that t ime h a d completely s topped, or that I was i n a context beyond t ime. Th is p o e m is prope l led by a series of quest ions that lead to ever- increasingly obv ious connect ions to the site of arat ional i ty—moments i n everyday l i fe that may go as unrecognized as t imes when we d ip our toes i n the inf in i te waters of the t ranscendent. C o m m e n c i n g w i th the innocuous, yet strange quest ion of h o w o ld are you when you laugh, the poem asks the same quest ion about other c o m m o n experiences l ike the consumpt ion of food and dr ink , as we l l as mus ic and nature, and the in t imacy of love and integrity. The goal is to make people sensit ive to these special moments i n the i r own way as t ranscendence is always just a step away. W e un lock the founta in of youth Th rough our choice of f rames to v iew A l l manner of l i v ing , both past and new. 141 In The Goddess of Innovation, I personi fy and deify and then hope to evoke the t ranscendent state of arat ional i ty. A n d i f she does arr ive It's usual ly a surpr ise and I don't always sense her presence Jus t that colors seem br ight A n d the f low is total ly r ight A n d new ideas pop for th f rom m y essence F r o m years of work ing w i th in the site of the arat ional , I k n o w that the personal contextual f rame needed to enter the site can be chal lenging to susta in . A n d as I relax, I k n o w she is r ight I just get i n my own way Fo r the t r ick is to open the door A n d a l low her to explore wi thout B lock ing or cont ro l l ing her stay A n d that's easier sa id than done Fo r the mind 's rascal monkey for one Is always ta lk ing and tak ing cont ro l But the goddess needs plenty of r o o m To create such a tune That 's or ig ina l and fu l l of sou l A n d the monkey w i l l pretend to Be asleep i n order to sneak a peek A t the awe- insp i r ing beauty of the goddess But she can sense h i m through his process A n d she w i l l fade away g lowing Ano the r poem that deals w i th th is zone of innovat ion is the poem ent i t led High Wire Guitar. The circus metaphor draws i n al l types of secondary associat ions wi th danger and dar ing and h igh d rama. But this poem is also f i l led w i th m ixed imagery of sp i r i tua l ism. Ini t ia l ly, I refer to guitar p lay ing as wa lk ing on water. I refer to the mant ra Om Mani Padme Hum to evoke the not ion of complete 142 concentrat ion, the B u d d h a of Compass ion , and the wh i r l i ng o f the spheres. The p innacle, or go lden mean, arr ives w i th the two words , " Y o u are." You are Y o u r extension and If a l l manner of th ings have Locked themselves in to The most sacred pat tern W h e n the sun makes love to the m o o n A n d the t ides ro l l backward to reveal Anc ien t sh ipwrecks and cit ies O f so long ago, yet you k n o w A n d the how l of the wo l f Becomes an ar ia of unspeakable beauty... Then you are ready F r o m these words I construct a t r iumvi ra te of associat ions that l i nks gui tar so lo ing w i th the c i rcus as wel l as w i th deep sp i r i tua l i sm. In so do ing , I hope to s imulate some of my psychological experiences of creat ing mus i c on stage for the reader. W i t h the decl ine of the inf luence of the church in the 1 9 6 0 ' s , m a n y young people tu rned to an in fo rma l spi r i tual i ty and idolat ry th rough the pop icons. People w o u l d careful ly l is ten to lyr ics as i f there were mode rn scr iptures. Gu i ta r wizards l ike E r i c C lap ton and J i m i Hend r i x became the h igh pr iests of the movement . There in , extended blues based solos gu ided us to new levels of t ranscendence. A n d so, th is poem stems f rom that att i tude, where the act ions of the improv iser mode l a sacred r i tual where in the pass ion a n d the l i fe force of the player tu rn the solo into a h y m n of t ranscendence. 143 Reflections and Intimate Looks into the Form and Function of the Educational Landscape There are a number of poems and narrat ives that were composed du r ing m y graduate work that address educat ional issues. These inc lude the fo l lowing poems: On Music Class after a Sleepless Night, and How Do You Determine, as wel l as the narrat ives, The Hustler, and This Day in a Life. On Music Class after a Sleepless Night invi tes the reader to imagine some of the feel ing and atmosphere of a mode rn j un io r h igh mus ic class w i th the add i t iona l bonus of seeing it f rom the teacher's perspect ive. M a n y people have taken b a n d classes when they were i n school , but few know what the experience is l i ke on the Other side of the baton. I incorporated real sounds f rom one of m y j un io r concert bands to intensi fy and val idate the m o o d of the opening l ines. Lazy sounds, crazy sounds, Deep f r om a bed of morn ing si lence They b l oom In al l shapes and sizes Sounds of brass, sounds electric, sounds pathet ic F r o m o ld reeds and mo ldy reeds and Mis reads of mus ic w i th Cases bang ing and mus ic stands c langing I ta lk about h o w the mus ic grows in intensi ty unt i l there is a point where the over lapping of sound is so frequent that the sounds congeal one enormous s torm that seems to have gained a l i fe of its own . The growl ing, howl ing , crashing, and c lashing O f these fragments of f requency and emot ion In th is l u m p y sonic mass hits Its cr i t ical point of no re turn and morphs Into one hideous mul t i - tendr i l led enti ty That cont inues to expand and 144 Feed off b lack hole recesses A n d suddenly lashes out at me, Knock ing me senseless w i th Unbearab le d issonance and decibels That moves to destabi l ize my very f rame Of ca lm and detached profess ional ism (?) T ry ing to start a class requires pu l l ing the ch i ld ren out of thei r o w n explorat ions and back to si lence. Th is is can be a chal lenge. Some b a n d teachers resort to a mi l i ta ry- l ike atmosphere where ch i ld ren fear thei r teacher enough to qu ick ly shut down when asked. I aspire to have, however, a ca lmer style, where in I foster a more relaxed env i ronment—one that can somet imes lead to exp lorat ion or too much socia l iz ing. So in my c lassroom, b r ing ing the ch i ld ren back to m y mus ic agenda can be chal lenging. I scramble to pad my ears a n d Grab my baton whi le I Ca l l for the Force and the Gods of Reason. W a l k i n g out of my office I tap twice on the mus ic s tand, ra is ing m y h a n d whi le Pray ing that the a l ien i n my r o o m W i l l hear my cal l and sense my in tent ion a n d W i l l fa i l to detect my b lu f f A n d that my sheer magni tude of conv ic t ion W i l l dissipate this enti ty back to A bed of si lence so that the seeds of Focus , cohesion, grace, and beauty M a y take root and once again Re tu rn us to a garden of symphony. The narrat ives The Hustler and This Day In a Life d ig m u c h deeper in to the pol i t ics and issues that I have dealt w i th in my tenure as a mus ic teacher. The l ight tone permeat ing the mus ica l soundscape of The Hustler softens the harsher real i t ies of pol i t ics and power in the pub l ic system. The dominan t quest ion that is posed is whether I acted w i th integri ty when I man ipu la ted m y pr inc ipa l into 145 va lu ing the mus ic p rogram. In ref lect ion, I probab ly wou ld do the same th ing i f the s i tuat ion cal led for it but after wr i t ing th is piece, I bel ieve that I w o u l d approach the issue more careful ly and slowly. This Day in a Life chronic les a f ict i t ious day i n my professional l i fe. A day at school serves as a scaffold to foist a p le thora of issues and points of v iew I have about m y job and profession. It is a / r / tog raph ic by default as it interweaves m y roles as artist, teacher and researcher. In rev iewing th is narrat ive I th ink that it serves the purpose of p r im ing readers to the typical agenda and demands p laced on mus ic teachers. It raises quest ions about ethics, and the purpose of teaching as wel l as inv i t ing thought on how mus ic classes shou ld be st ructured and how student needs cou ld be met. It also acts as a spr ingboard for many other topics. The Intuitive Process and Empathy without Experience Reflections on the collaborative process of the Poet and the Piper. H o w is it that one is able to successful ly construct mus ic to either a poem, narrat ive, or l ibret to that contains subjects and feelings that are fore ign to the composer? Or , to rephrase, what mechan isms are operat ing when a wr i te r /poet feels that col laborat ion wi th a composer strongly conveys the exper ient ia l essence of the text even though the composer has never been through any of the poet's experiences other than reading or hear ing the text? Certa in ly , it is an acknowledgement of the strength of the narrat ive to convey the in tent ion and affective atmosphere of the subject at hand . Hav ing sa id that, when I reflect on the l i fe of Car l Leggo, I must certainly acknowledge that I come f rom another wo r l d of experience. Regrettably, I have never been east of Quebec Ci ty . I have never 146 breathed the salt air of the east coast—never met its wonder fu l , co lour fu l inhabi tants. Yet , there was some inexpl icable l i nk ing between Car l and myself. Ca r l , and his wife L a n a , were both very p leased w i th our a / r / tog raph ic co l laborat ion. Lana felt that I real ly unders tood the moods, ideas a n d feel ings Car l t r ied to convey. The fo l lowing discourse is a ref lect ion on the event, i n hopes of g leaning some insight in to the quest ion of intui t ive empathet ic connect ions and render ings albeit w i thout real t ime experience. The seven poems that Car l shared w i th me were treated ind iv idua l ly . N o conscious l i nk ing th rough mot i f or style was used. H a v i n g sa id that, a number of poems were f rom a per iod when Car l was ref lect ing on h is east coast ch i ldhood experiences i n Newfound land , Canada. M a n y of these art ist ic ref lect ions, w i th the except ion of Lynch 's Lane, seemed to cal l for a casual style of wr i t ing . The Same Nose cal led to me for a fo lk- l ike accompaniment i n a two-part structure. Car l to ld me that h is dad l i ked country music . I th ink of Scott ish j igs and reels as be ing part of the east coast subconscious mus ica l / cu l tu ra l mosaic. So, I dec ided to sp in an east coast reel w i th a twist of country. I started w i th a hook for acoust ic guitar. F r o m there, it is cont inuous ly repeated w i th var ious ins t ruments j o in ing in to expand, countr i fy, and variate the spir i t of the hook. The Sk ipper (A .K .A . , Car l 's father) has clearly def ined views on any number of topics, but one v iew that stands out is h is d is ta in for snobs. W h e n Car l refers to other topics of rant, the mus ic moves into a m ino r sett ing. Af ter eight bars, it returns to the happy, danceable f i rst theme in an A / B / A structure. The whole piece, be ing in part, a m i r r o r of Car l 's father, assumes a st ra ight forward qual i ty—one that is decorated w i th the mus ica l equivalents of b lue-col lar cul ture and values. 147 In retrospect, it wou ld have he lped to have met Sk ipper before wr i t ing th is piece. W r i t i n g mus ic for poems that address inner feel ings or abstract ideas a l lows for more f reedom than wr i t ing mus ic for a person that is st i l l a l ive. I bel ieve that the latter demands accuracy—much l i ke the accuracy sought by a h is tor ian. Perhaps, i n part due to th is, I feel the least sat isf ied w i th this piece No Locks v iv id ly takes one back to the house where Car l grew up . Usua l ly , Car l reads th is poem w i th a lot of frenet ic energy. Th is house was a very busy place. I t r ied to capture some of the energy and d rama . M y f irst step was to create a mov ing , t umb l i ng d r u m pattern that locks i n w i th a fur ious ly f rant ic bass part. If you l is ten, you w i l l hear the sound of Car l 's mother sweeping w i th a b r o o m wh ich became a metaphor ica l c lear ing of the house for the next act ivi ty i n thei r three-r ing c i rcus of domest ic i ty . A t rad i t ional jazz gui tar is used to fur ther h ighl ight the swi r l ing energy. I purposefu l ly created a very abrupt end ing to contrast w i th the si lence fo l lowing the track. I wanted the l istener to feel a bi t of rel ief when it was over. Overa l l , I felt fa ir ly pleased w i th this soundscape as it seemed to support Car l 's fever ish reading of the poem. Th is piece fur ther conv inced me of the value of hear ing poets read thei r own wr i t ings. Indeed, the act of per formance poetry seems in i tself a mul t i - layered and essential ly a / r / tog raph ic process. Text is comb ined w i th oratory. So st rong is this a lchemy that I found mysel f se ldom referr ing to a hardcopy of Car l 's poems. W h e n I wanted to experience h is poetry, my recordings of Car l were far more sat iat ing than the one-d imens iona l f o rm on paper. Car l 's readings move in real t ime. H i s subconscious use of meter, phras ing, dynamics , tenuto, accelerando, r i tardando and ar t icu lat ion un fo ld l ike a symphon ic d rama . 148 Lis ten ing to these mus ica l elements of Car l 's per formance i n t u rn shaped the mus ica l "nest" that I constructed for the poem. Know ing the way that Car l wr i tes, I wou ld argue that h is poetry in par t icu lar shou ld be heard ( through per formance) , rather than be ing read. If I had in i t ia l ly exper ienced this poem through m y own reading of it, I doubt that I wou ld have automat ical ly in terpreted the poem w i th such vigor. Picnics cal led for a broader, introspect ive, and more melancho ly approach. Ou r awareness of l im i ted t ime on earth is arguably a most di f f icul t topic. W i t h th is poem, I felt that Car l 's un ique f raming was poignant and compel l ing . I wanted th is piece to have an ins t rumenta l open ing that prepared the l istener for the melancholy and complex m o o d the poem generated. I used a jazz- l ike genre instead of a pure classical piece because Car l l ightens up the poem toward the end. I p laced an ins t rumenta l solo i n the center of the poem for reasons that were two fo ld . F i rs t , to reinforce the m o o d and movement of the poem. Second, to a l low the l istener to reflect on the words spoken thus far. L i ke the poem, the mus ic has an inevitable swing to it and eventual ly w inds down l ike a clock. Car l and I are both close to the same age and though he was clearly cognizant and concerned about the f inal i ty of the earthly h u m a n experience at an early age, I, as a 52-year -o ld man , empath ized on a level that prev iously wou ld not be possible f o r m e . My Mother's House demonstrates a pern ic ious theme in Car l 's poetry: the co l l id ing of contextual f rames and past recol lect ions w i th new contextual awareness of the present. The unders tand ing and feelings of ch i ldhood experiences can change so dramat ica l ly as we go through our l ives, ga in ing new experiences, 149 new understandings, and , perhaps, new levels o f empathy and compass ion for others as wel l as ourselves. W i t h this process, I see Car l Leggo, the poet, as metaphor ica l ly s i t t ing i n the midd le of a room of m i r ro rs that reflect back di f fer ing angles of unders tand ing. Physic ists theor ize that, i f one cou ld accelerate fast enough, one cou ld bend back th rough t ime and return to the past. In th is poem, Car l returns to his mother 's home and discovers that it is ver i tably unchanged since Car l grew up in it. Car l examines it as a t ime-t raveler might , where in his past archetypical memor ies of his home paradox ica l ly con f i rm and col l ide w i th h is current adult experiences of the house. The past looks the same, yet different, as it is m i r ro red through the new lens of a mature m a n , poet, academic, father, husband and wo r l d traveler. In this room of mi r ro rs , the past looks new, the past looks o ld , the past in fo rms the present, and the present in fo rms the past. To accompany th is mix of feel ings, I wrote a soundscape that is very c i rcu lar , one that just keeps going, not un l i ke the ref lect ions in a r o o m of m i r ro rs . It also reminds me of the long car r ides that I took as a boy each s u m m e r to the same place. M u s i c a l events happen i n this piece just l ike the coming and going of scenery a long the way. W e Would never stop—Carr ie 's (Carl 's mother 's) place never changes—and so there is a ben ign , observat ional feel ing to the whole event. W h a t changes is real ly in terna l . A n d so the soundscape s lowing vanishes, its fo lksy style emphas iz ing the contents of the house and its owner. The Diver is a powerfu l piece of poetry. Every t ime I hear it, Car l 's wr i t ing forces me to experience a complete v is ion of the story i n m y mind 's eye. In the beg inn ing, I wanted to create a ca lm, watery feel ing -the feel ing that one has when you are s w i m m i n g under the water and r is ing up to the surface for air. Then 150 intui t ively, I decided that th is poem wi th its dramat ic story, stops, starts, and t runcat ion of present w i th past, requ i red a looser, and more f lexible mus ica l support . Us ing d rums or str ict t ime just d i d not seem appropr iate. A single gui tar seemed the best choice. A s I l is tened to the poem, I s imp ly improv ised mus ica l moods and tempos. Out of the seven poems, th is piece seemed to rely the most o n immedia te intu i t ive responses. There was l i t t le rev is ion-only the overdub of w i n d chimes at a few chosen spots. Indeed, due to spontaneous creat ion, I don' t recognize my p lay ing at certain points . I don' t k n o w what I p layed a n d I couldn ' t dupl icate it accurately wi thout t ranscr ib ing parts of it. I cont inue to enjoy the poem and the soundscape and often th ink about youth , dar ing and fool ishness, a n d thei r need for acts of fundamenta l is t reduct ion ism in hero ism. The poem ent i t led O was a joy to work w i th . A l t hough Car l spoke very l i t t le about what he heard mus ica l ly for these soundscapes, I do recal l h i m ment ion ing the idea of sur f mus ic . But when I started work ing on the piece, h is a l lud ing to a broncobuster pushed me in to morph ing the surf mus ic into a homogeneous b lend of sur f and country mus ic wh ich was a sort of Lone Star Surf. Then , I pu l led out my telecaster gui tar and my sl ide and t r ied to musica l ly emulate the r ide w i th its s lope and bumps and eventual crash. Th is soundscape is very l ight-hearted and works wel l for me in the context of the six other poems. I do not k n o w how comfor table I wou ld be i f it were p layed out of the context of the C D . The reading ofLynch's Lane was a par t icu lar ly power fu l experience for me. Car l has an ext raord inary gift of recal l ing the past and put t ing the reader in to the centre of the experience. Th is is achieved in part th rough his abi l i ty to tune in to smal l detai ls wh ich for most of us, are long forgotten. The taste of the f irst popsic le 151 i n summer , the p ink f lesh of f r ied t rout draws our at tent ion to the things that stood out when we were young and the wo r l d was new. The poem is once bo th ord inary and sub l imely extra-ordinary. D u r i n g the August ( 2 0 0 5 ) that I wrote the mus ic for Car l 's poems, I was lost i n my own wor l d of recol lect ion. M y father was very s ick w i th l ung cancer. Indeed, he w o u l d die just a week after the comple t ion of m y co l laborat ion w i th Car l . A s I wrote the mus ic for Lynch's Lane, Car l 's open ing and c los ing l ines that signify bo th the permanence and impor tance of ch i ldhood memor ies reverberated w i th the intensi fy ing prospect that my re lat ionship w i th m y father w o u l d soon col lapse into a series o f special memor ies. A s such, I was unable to work on Car l 's poem wi thout th ink ing of m y D a d and his immanen t pass ing in to th is f ie ld of memor ies . The sanct i ty of these thoughts and Car l 's memor ies forced me to wr i te mus ic f r om the p iano. I a m not a pianist , and so I was forced to loop together sma l l phrases. The theme that enters at the end of the poem is a mot i f ic representat ion of the spir i t of my father as we l l as the spir i t of a l l the impor tan t memor ies of growing up. I w o u l d l ike to have orchestrated this sect ion as I env is ioned a cel lo p lay ing or at least doub l ing th is theme. Jus t before the piece ends, the theme dissolves into a peaceful consonance-metaphor ica l ly echoing the end of m y father's t roubles w i th the f inal passage. 152 Section IV What have I learned/unlearned? To Believe in Myself and Value of My Unique Artistic Voice Through th is journey of grad studies, I have been led myse l f to resurrect m y own voice. That is , however, precip i tated on a number o f other factors, the least o f wh ich be ing that I bel ieve i n mysel f and i n m y own in t r ins ic value as a h u m a n . A s I was growing up, heroes a n d hero ic artists seemed to be very sel f -assured and general ly r ight about many issues. Te lev is ion heroes were always b lack and whi te r ight. Later, m y mus ica l heroes seemed to be very conf ident. Even as a young , u n k n o w n mus ic ian ar r iv ing i n N e w York , Bob Dy lan ( 2 0 0 4 ) was very conf ident about h imsel f : "...I had a heightened sense of awareness, was set i n m y ways, impract ica l and a v is ionary to boot. M y m i n d was st rong l ike a t rap and I d idn ' t need any guarantee of val id i ty ." (p. 9) . Somehow, a long the way, as a sma l l boy, I m ixed up the no t ion of hero w i th be ing an adult . In fact, I felt that i n order to be grown up , you had to be a hero on some level . W h e n I ref lected on myself, and compared mysel f against these heroes, I always felt I had a long way to go. The wor ld was a myster ious and complex place. M y T V heroes and even my D a d seemed very clear and cont ro l led, decisive and resolute. T V heroes unders tood the wor ld and always made the r ight choices. A s I thought about myself, I cou ld see how undeveloped I was; I cou ld see that I d idn ' t k n o w a lot about the wor ld , much less lead i n any way. A s I always felt unsure, I tended to move caut iously through l i fe. I fa i led as a boy to acknowledge that when I looked at myself , I judged my ident i ty and behaviors f rom a posi t ion of pr iv i lege, i n the sense that I cou ld clearly see al l my fai l ings and al l my exper ient ia l inadequacies. W i thou t the cr i t ical abi l i ty to see 153 that my heroes suffered f rom thei r own set of fa i l ings, I felt general ly infer ior . Th rough th is process, I unknowing ly const ructed psychological b locks against my own success. I had fa i led to realize that heroes, as I perceived them, do not exist- humans exist, and some humans act i n heroic ways. The h u m a n cond i t ion is one of fa l l ib i l i ty and learn ing and knowledge acquis i t ion often occurs through and i n spite o f mistakes. Yet somehow, I conv inced mysel f that burdened w i th my o w n fal l ib i l i ty , I h a d less of value to contr ibute than others. Th is may, i n part, have also been a result of m y adolescent inabi l i ty to connect w i th my cul ture. So many aspects of my cul ture d i d not appeal to me. The b lue-co l la r cul ture of the ' 5 0 ' s seemed nar row and judgmenta l and t ry ing to fit i n seemed to k i l l my l i fe force. A s I moved into adolescence, the suburban l i festyle that was embraced by so many Canad ians , seemed l ike an imposs ib ly sma l l reposi tory for m y restless nature. But m y M o m and D a d d i d seem to fit i n , as d id so many others, to the po in t that I felt obl iged to assume that the prob lem lay w i th in me. Th is catapul ted me into a decades long journey to change mysel f i n order to fit i n . To Work on Releasing Comparisons and Cultural Norms and Measurements of Value W h y I cou ld not believe that I cou ld be right—that the cul ture cou ld be problemat ic , i f not lethal for some of its members—st i l l eludes me. In fact, as I grew up , it was obvious that some of my new mus ica l heroes suffered badly and went general ly unrecognized for thei r contr ibut ions. Saxophonist Char l ie Parker and guitar ist Lenny Breau both led art ist ic l ives of amaz ing or ig ina l i ty and art ist ic achievement yet bo th struggled to survive and both received l i t t le recogni t ion 154 relative to the magni tude of thei r art ist ic genius. I do not k n o w h o w m u c h th is lack of recogni t ion bothered Parker or Breau , but I a m sure that, at least f inancia l ly , it must have been a very f rustrat ing experience. These great artists uncovered new art ist ic f ront iers th rough thei r dedicat ion and obsession w i th thei r art f o rm and not th rough an attempt to become famous or for f inanc ia l ga in . It seems that a personal context of art ist ic achievement based on the results of the recogni t ion of the cul ture, represents a dangerous mind-set . One must fo l low one's voice for i ts own in t r ins ic and sp i r i tua l rewards. If one is recognized publ ic ly , so be it, but that cannot be the dr iv ing force of any art ist ic endeavors. Leonard Cohen d ismisses the relevance of the cul ture 's fa i lure to recognize Lenny Breau's genius. In the E m i l y Hughes ' f i lm , The Genius of Lenny Breau, ( 1 9 9 9 ) , Cohen states that Breau was "burn ing i n the furnace of creat ion," and that alone was nour ish ing . H e cont inued by saying that for some people th is nour ishment is enough and that f o r others, "it doesn't mean a th ing" (Hughes, 1 9 9 9 ) . Contextual Shifting and Re-building: Letting go of heroes: To be my own hero/no one is a hero/everyone is a hero A s I wi tnessed th is personal psychodrama un fo ld , and I became more in fo rmed as to my own in t r ins ic wor th , I found mysel f mov ing away f rom the concept of heroes. In everyday act ivi t ies, I noted that I was not reading about them as m u c h or g iv ing them as m u c h thought. L i v ing i n this newly " renovated" conceptual space, I seemed to have l i t t le energy for the process of mytho log iz ing others. I felt ready to move onward to new, or ig inal adventures in order un fo ld as I shou ld . 155 But the concept of hero kept haunt ing m y psyche. A n d so, as I i n fo rmed mysel f of mysel f th rough wr i t ing , per fo rming mus ic , teaching, and a / r / tog raph ic process, I dec ided that perhaps the answer for me lay i n me becoming m y own hero. Th is not ion Was very he lp fu l at shi f t ing my context away f r om zealous admi ra t ion of the l ives of others to a pos i t ion of or ig ina l th ink ing . Indeed, the idea that I w o u l d become my own hero worked l ike a commerc ia l s logan-someth ing fast and easy that I cou ld glean onto in order to prevent the new ways of th ink ing f r om s l ipp ing away. A n d th is catch-phrase d i d indeed in i t ia l ly help me h o l d on to the new ways of seeing myself. U p o n deeper ref lect ion, I th ink that the whole no t ion of hero ism is so l i nked w i th recogni t ion that it becomes inappropr ia te as a conceptual a id for art ists. Af ter a l l , is the no t ion of hero ism not real ly part o f the scaffolding of our cul ture? One cou ld enter arguments that a hero may not even exist un t i l the society at large recognizes one. Thus , I f ind that the concept of hero ism is m i r e d i n the no t ion o f recogni t ion. A n d I have learned that th is hook of recogni t ion is a very dangerous one for me to entertain. W h e n embrac ing the not ion of he ro ism, I in ternal ly val idate the not ion of recogni t ion, I f i nd that I take m y self wor th and hand it over to the cul ture. Thus , my or ig inal th ink ing becomes subverted w i th an agenda, however subt le, that I create and express myself , based on what m y cul ture approves. A n d so, the avoidance of seeking recogni t ion is an impor tan t idea to ma in ta in i f I w ish to keep on my art ist ic path. However , th is idea of keeping the desire for recogni t ion at a distance is very di f f icult to imp lement because I am bombarded w i th the cul ture constant ly and to a great degree I am a product of th is 156 cul ture. I need to funct ion w i th a Zen- l i ke detachment, where in I observe a n d evaluate i ncoming s t imu l i , but keep the locus of cont ro l w i th in myself. I have c lar i f ied and developed new ways of th ink ing and feel ing, I f i nd mysel f move toward abandon ing the hero ic not ion . Yet , I struggle w i th th is idea as wel l . He ro i sm , though it is hooked w i th recogni t ion, is also connected w i th other posit ive not ions, such as not ions of hope and a l t ru ism, and the no t ion of reaching past no rma l behaviors and cul tura l patterns to create new parad igms of behavior . Consequent ly , at th is juncture of m y th ink ing /wr i t i ng , I a m conceptual iz ing that "everyone is a hero. " A g a i n , I a m us ing an arguably false general izat ion, but it seems to feel more comfortable than the not ion that there are no heroes. Perhaps th is is in termediary step that w i l l eventual ly lead me to the no t ion that there are no heroes. Bu t for now, ar tography has t rans formed me into the no t ion that "everyone is a hero. " Th is context certainly al lows me to tap in to hero ic energy and pass ion for future art ist ic expression. It also supports my teaching as this conceptual f rame shines a posi t ive l ight and potent ia l on al l humans . I w i l l caut iously cont inue my medi ta t ion on the role of hero wh i ch is a role fraught w i th pit fal ls and equal ly abundant w i th enormous t ransformat ive powers. Campbe l l ( 1 9 8 8 ) states, "The images of my th are ref lect ions of the sp i r i tua l potent ial i t ies of every one of us. Th rough contemplat ing these, we evoke thei r powers i n our own l ives" (p. 2 0 7 ) . To re-c la im my voice also means that I need to val idate m y own process and r i tuals. Th is for me is less of a p rob lem than real ly accept ing what I f i nd w i th in myself. Cer ta in ly through my course work on narrat ive inqu i ry , I have once again wa lked the path of arat ional knowledge. A / r / t o g r a p h i c methodology has shown me 157 that in tu i t ion and insp i ra t ion , fo l lowed by review through logic and ref lect ion, is t ru ly my modus operandi . Wha t I need to do is at tend to the muse more often and avoid cognit ive t raps that sabotage my unfo ld ing The Snake of Regret Keeps Attacking Re-c la im ing m y or ig inal voice has invo lved m u c h personal a n d professional growth. It is my intent to cont inue to use a / r / tog raph ic forms to rec la im my voice in order to avo id the pit fal ls of exper iencing regret. A s an a / r / tographer , I have learned that m y own authent ic voice can h ighl ight and i n fo rm my future. It seems so easy to wri te a declarat ion of in tent ion l ike the last paragraph, but it is harder to enact. W h e n I a m hav ing a bad day, it is very easy, even after a l l this work , to fal l into an oft-repeated cycle of regret that has been w i th me since I tu rned 5 0 . 1 feel, however, that I have moved far enough fo rward through th is process to stymie future cycles. Reflections on the Effect of the A/r/tographic Experience on my Classroom Teaching Whenever a person adds an experience of learn ing that encompasses the magni tude of a master 's degree, there must surely be rami f icat ions throughout many levels of thei r l ives. Changes and growth become fur ther enhanced when the purpose of the research takes on an introspect ive and autobiographic element. Personal ly , I have always felt that I have moved forward fo l lowing an academic experience. But this academic experience feels l ike the biggest step yet i n my own personal development . I sense that my th ink ing is more luc id and funct ions at deeper levels of sophis t icat ion. 158 F r o m my courses, I have gained more clar i ty on the complex i ty of l i fe and h o w people do see things dif ferently. Th is is forc ing me to be more accept ing of others as we l l as myself . The rami f icat ions of the experience have affected my da i ly c lassroom assignment . There is an overal l feel ing of inv igorat ion that I b r ing to the c lassroom. M y deepening empathy w i th the var iance of h u m a n cond i t ion increases my abi l i ty to keep ca lm and work through issues w i th students. A s I become more connected and clear th rough the a / r / tog raph ic process, I b r ing more pass ion about mus ic and art to m y job . A n d I have always found that pass ion, to some extent, rubs off on students. Indeed, students often w i l l open u p and w iden thei r own exper ience, i f an inst ructor is mot ivated about the subject matter. Indeed, I sense that c lassroom env i ronment a n d student interest and achievement can be somewhat v iewed as a m i r ro r of the pass ion, subject sk i l ls , in terpersonal sk i l ls , and the overal l experience of the teacher. U l t imate ly , as I learn and grow, my success as a teacher w i l l move to deeper levels of growth. In l ight of my growth as a / r / tographer , I p lan to create a new school course that w i l l inspi re songwri ters, composers, and improv isers . The purpose of th is course w i l l be to encourage and document student creativity. The work ing course t i t le w i l l be "song-wr i t ing and technology." U s i n g Car l Leggo's Narra t ive Inqui ry class as a mode l , I w ish to create a safe and insp i r ing env i ronment for students to wr i te /compose and share thei r creat ions w i th the others in class. A s wel l , the students wou ld learn about the record ing process and develop the requisi te sk i l ls to make thei r own recordings. C lassroom topics may inc lude discourse on the art ist ic process, the nature and funct ion of poetry, as we l l as ta lks on compos i t ion and more technical lecture on the operat ion of the record ing equipment . W h e n we reach a degree of safety and comfort , we w i l l share and celebrate our ind iv idua l art ist ic creat ions. I env is ion a C D / D V D of student submiss ions at the end of the year to 159 celebrate their learn ing. In a sense, I see th is course as an extension of my research as students become engaged in the a / r / t og raph ic process. Where to Now? I a m revel ing in ant ic ipat ion of f in ish ing th is phase of ref lect ion so that I may return w i th renewed vi ta l i ty to new mus ica l , poetic, and a / r / tog raph ic outpour ings. A s to my on-going development as a jazz guitar ist, I a m f lush w i th or ig ina l ideas to the po int that I backlogged in m y absorb ing these mot i fs in to m y inventory of improv isa t iona l mot i fs. I am w ish ing to compose a C D of or ig ina l jazz insp i red music . It w i l l be the f irst sampler of my work in many years. I hope to cont inue wr i t ing poetry as th is is one of the greatest personal benefi ts that I der ived f rom the Master 's experience. I never wrote poetry p r io r to my re turn to school . N o w , I a m taken by a b rand new art f o rm that is r ich i n potent ia l for learn ing. I must cont inue to be v ig i lant of m y psychological cycles i f I w i sh to keep th is art ist ic thrust going. Fa l l i ng into a vortex of regret creates iner t ia . I must careful ly mon i to r my th ink ing patterns and compi le a more comprehensive l ist of psycho-tr iggers and cognit ive errors that promote my descent into inact iv i ty or unor ig ina l i ty . F ina l l y , I must cont inue to deflate and resolve my issues w i th my Dad , who passed away in the midd le of th is project. W h e n I f i nd mysel f m i red in f rustrat ion about our re lat ionship, I must rem ind mysel f of what I k n o w to be t rue: that my Dad loved me and was very p roud of al l m y accompl ishments . Perhaps, wr i t ing some mus ic , poetry, and narrat ive might he lp resolve this tens ion. 160 I am start ing anew. Ideas surface that are total ly or ig ina l as I have rec la imed my own voice. I must cont inue to learn about mysel f and str ive to engage in the a / r / tog raph ic process i n order embrace m y own uniqueness as a h u m a n for it is clear that a / r / tog raphy enables me to gain deeper understandings about issues that have shaped my v iew of the wor ld . Indeed, f r om m y research, I have gained invaluable ins ights about the real me. F r o m al l m y mus ic , poet ic a n d narrat ive render ings in a / r / tog raph ic forms, I have discovered a deeper mul t i layered ind iv idua l ins ide who became reenergized and revi ta l ized about f ind ing and releasing an authent ic inner voice. I resolved issues and found new quest ions about myself. I explored in tu i t ion , and broke boundar ies . I have sculpted and embraced stories beh ind the stories about myself. Heroes surface whi le regrets b r ing new narrat ives. W h o a m I? I am artist, teacher, gui tar p layer, and a / r / tographer . Thus , th rough a / r / tog raph ic process, I a m t ru ly start ing anew. 161 References B a i , H . (2001). Beyond the educated m i n d : Towards a pedagogy of mindfu lness. In B. Hock ing , J . Haske l l & W . L inds (Eds.) , Unfolding bodymind: Exploring possibility through education (pp. 86-99). Bur l i ng ton , V T : Founda t ion for Educat iona l Renewal . B i cke l , B. (2004). 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