What Classical Music Can Teach About Quality Instruction

I enjoy music. Most people do, of course.  Depending on our mood or purpose for listening, we enjoy different music styles at different times. When I run, I usually like up-beat fast paced music that will energize or inspire me. I look for songs with motivational lyrics or songs with a great beat. (Or songs from the Rocky movies.)  Other times, other music will suffice.  Sometimes a little Sinatra goes a long way as I complete some of my daily routines.

Over the past few years, I have found that listening to classical music also provides me with a certain peace and tranquility. I have found that the more I listen to classical music, the more I enjoy it.

For much of my life, I tried to enjoy classical music, but a few things got in the way.

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It Can’t Be Done

These might be old stories, but they are all worth repeating because they speak to a common theme.

(For added enjoyment, follow the hyperlinks embedded in this post.)

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The year was 1954.  In athletics there was a sense that a human could not physically run faster than a four minute mile.  “It’s impossible,” many said.  Athlete after athlete trained and tried – and all fell short.  The four minute mile seemed to be an impassible barrier.

And then, on May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister did it.  Bannister ran a sub-four minute mile!  He did something no human being had ever done before.  The impossible had occurred – like catching lightning in a bottle.  Many thought that Bannister’s feat was fluke, a one-in-a-million occurrence.

Six weeks later, an Australian, John Landy, bested Roger Bannister’s time.

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Just Start Writing

Recently I ran into one of my biggest fears. The week was drawing to a close and I did not have any thoughts or new material for a weekly passage that I write for teachers. (Those weekly passages helped give birth to this blog.)

I am a believer in a theory I termed, “Just Start Writing.”  I find that when I start to put words to the page, my creative juices start to flow, the blank page disappears, and a passage (at least in rough draft form) is completed.

What follows is a reflection that I originally wrote for teachers, but I believe the bigger message can be applied for all.

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Hiroshima, Japan – July 5, 2012

About four years ago, I embarked on a two-week educator’s tour of Japan.  It was an amazing experience.  I was fortunate to be able to bring my eighteen year old son who would be heading off to college on this trip with me.  I treasure those moments that we experienced together.

Each day in Japan was filled with wonder .  Each day provided an opportunity to learn and grow.  The trip left an indelible imprint upon my soul.  It was special in so many ways.

I hope to someday have the opportunity to experience Japan again.

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Success or Failure?

I’m training for a marathon.  This will be my 20th marathon.  I’m excited and eager to get to the line and run this race.  I think it will be my best race in a long time.

There’s only one problem.

The race is 34 weeks away.

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The Story of a Winner (Meb Keflezighi)

It is probably somewhat normal, even for adults, to have favorite sports figures that they root for.  Baseball, football, and hockey players, tennis and golf stars, auto racers, and others come to mind.  With that being said, there are probably few people who have a professional marathoner for whom they root.

I am one of those people.  I am fan of Meb Keflezighi.  He’s a champion marathoner.

But it hasn’t always been that way.

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Putting My Cards on the Table

I was recently at a holiday party that included an enjoyable grab bag/gift giving activity.  There were tea cups, candles, candies, some gift certificates…and the greatest wine rack ever.  Really.  (Sometimes you just have to grab the big ugly box.)

But, most of all, there were baseball cards.  Four packs of baseball cards from 1985 and 1986…

When I was a kid, baseball cards were an important part of my life.  I, of course, collected them, but it was more than that.  I read them.  I studied them.  I memorized them.  I played with them.  I invented games with them.  I also sorted them – time and again by player, by team, by season, by card number, and in many other ways and then back again.  (Might this be where I developed some tendencies to keep things in order?)

I had my baseball cards in boxes, wrapped with rubber bands, and later in plastic sheets.  I loved my baseball cards.

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