Why bother with the arts?
As a third-grader in Ardsley, NY I played second violin in the school orchestra. There was no pressure. It was something to do. My mother also used to take me to hear the Leonard Bernstein Youth Symphony at Lincoln Center. The music at those concerts enthralled me. I remember the pent-up excitement in the pit of my stomach when the lights would go low as she held my hand. I missed a lot of Giants football games for those concerts. I still love the Giants. Still love classical music.
Last week I attended the Spring Musicale at LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts. My son Matthew sings in the freshmen choir. He also sometimes sings Italian opera in the shower. He does both extremely well. Prior to this year, I had no idea he was adept at either.
When you are tasked with raising 4 kids (2 of my own and 2 steps) in two wildly divergent communities (Brooklyn, NY and Chicago's suburban North Shore), you get exposed to a lot of different philosophies. At the top of the heap is the universal notion that every school experience has to count for something. I'm not sure violin counted for much of anything in my life. Except for teaching me music, inspiring creativity, and leaving me with a lifelong passion for emotionally charged endeavors that do not necessarily come with quick returns.
Matthew, to the best of my knowledge, sings out of pure joy. I have no doubt many of the kids we saw on Thursday night will end up on the big stage, somewhere.
In the middle of the recital I looked over to see how my mom was doing. It was more than 40 years ago she held my hand at Lincoln Center and here we were a block away, listening to her grandson perform. I don't play violin any more and I have no idea where Matthew might go with his voice. But I'm glad Grandma was there. Back then, and now.