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Why Is It Good (Part I)
In middle school, the music teacher/choir instructor was this ridiculously sweet woman, Mrs. K.
Just to give you an idea of her kindness, one time, in music class, one of my best friends and neighbor, Wesley, was nodding off at his desk. Mrs. K called on him, asking if he was okay. Wesley, a fair Irish boy, turned beat red in embarrassment. In turn, she was embarrassed for making him uncomfortable and said there was no shame in being tired. It was warm at that day, and our school didn’t have AC. She put on some classical music and told us all to put our heads down for a rest, and that when the song ended if we fell asleep, she would continue class but wouldn’t wake anyone up who needed to sleep. I remember thinking she was truly insane then. I never seen a teacher behave this way.
I also sang in choir, though not very well, I’ll admit. I have kind of a nasally voice, and likely due to my damaged hearing from frequent ear infections, I couldn’t carry a range of tunes to save my life.
Despite my love for music, I could never read sheet music. It was like comprehending math to me. A foreign language. My brain couldn’t conceptualize it. This frustration caused me to quit every instrument I attempted to learn as a kid. The power of the word would be my muse, and I was already a growing wordsmith.
In music class, I recall, we had a test about classical musicians. One of the essay questions asked why Beethoven’s symphony was good. I was stumped. I knew it was good. In fact, I knew it was brilliant. I knew all those classical composers were genius. Then or now, I can’t fathom how they put together an orchestra to create masterpieces. But I didn’t know why. I couldn’t play instruments or understand sheet music. I didn’t have the brain capacity to understand why.
So I took a shot in the dark. I wrote the only thing I knew for sure. And that was how the music made me felt. It was kind of a bullshit answer, in the sense that, I was diverging from answering the question, but I wasn’t lying either. I just wrote from my little romantic heart.
I was sure I failed that test.
The next class when we got our tests back, she called on me and asked me to stand up. Naturally, I hated this. She handed me my test and asked me to read my answer. I was thoroughly confused. This wasn’t the type of woman who would try to humiliate you. She was an ally in the school. A pure heart. She asked me if I could read my answer.
Again, I hated this. I felt so embarrassed and stupid. But I did. I read my answer to the class. If I told you what I wrote, it would be a lie, since I don’t remember exactly. But when I looked up from my paper Mrs. K had tears in her eyes. This was not so uncommon. She cried a lot. Not hysterically nor because she was sad. She cried because she was happy all the time. On more than one occasion I made her cry, among other students, because she was so proud or moved by something someone did. She was truly and genuinely that kind.
Apparently, my semi-bullshit answer was not bullshit to her at all. It couldn’t have rang more true. That music, yes, came down to notes and chords and math and design, but the emotion was at the core of it. Truly brilliant music could make gods cry.
I’m not sure I even fully understood that at the time. But there couldn’t be something more true because it was so plain and simple. Why is it good. Because it makes me feel good. Because it makes me feel a lot of things. That’s why it’s good.