Saturday July 6, 2013

The joy of music and challenge of teaching it

Editor of the Reformer:

If you have ever listened to a fourth grader excitedly putting his new instrument for the first time, you have undoubtedly shared his sense of wonder.

At the same time, you may have (inwardly) cringed at the thought of hearing more of those joyful sounds Š or privately calculated out how many hours it might sound like that, before it turns into something more enjoyable.

Instrumental music teachers experience this every day. They have chosen to subject themselves to the noise, knowing that the pain at the beginning turns into something magical in the end. Mixed in between the loud squawks and admittedly less-than-perfect tones is the sheer joy of accomplishment: this thing can sound like something real.

For more than 40 years, Jim Kurty has encouraged (and endured) these moments during his teaching in Brattleboro’s three elementary schools. He -- probably even more than the kids themselves -- understood how hard it can be to learn to play an instrument. Just like most learning, there are some parts that are easy, and some parts that are downright hard. Many a frustrated elementary band student has wanted to just quit (and of course, many do).

But for those that do stick with it, suddenly, there is a hard-earned reward: actual music coming out of your own efforts.


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As the years and long hours of practice go by -- far after the elementary music teacher has finished with the beginning instrumentalist -- the kids "suddenly" are transformed. Their concerts are truly joyful for all to listen to.

There are many teachers that help our children. After 40 years, the parent groups at Academy School and Oak Grove have chosen to honor Mr. Kurty’s retirement with gifts to their schools.

We have purchased an instrument for each school. These will stay in the schools as a part of the instruments that can be given to families for their child’s use, in lieu of the cost of renting an instrument. Through Ellis Music (who generously gave our parent groups a discounted rate), Oak Grove has purchased a clarinet, and Academy has purchased a trumpet.

Oak Grove School’s parents have already raised all the money they need for this presentation, while Academy is still collecting. If anyone in the community would like to contribute, please send a check, made out to Academy School, 860 Western Avenue, Brattleboro, VT 05301.

Thank you again, Mr. Kurty, for your many years of listening.

Jill Stahl Tyler,

on behalf of ACT

(Academy Community Together),

parent group at Academy

and FROGS

(Friends and Relatives of Oak Grove School)

June 26

On dogs in parades

Editor of the Reformer:

While watching the Fourth of July parade today, at midday under a hot sun, we were concerned about the well being of the two dogs that were "marching" in the parade, as well as other dogs that were accompanying their spectating owners.

Dogs suffer from the heat more than we humans do. They have fur coats, and can’t sweat, except through their tongues and paw pads. Hot pavement burns their paws. They can’t say to their owners, "I’m hot, I need to rest. I’m thirsty."

I don’t know if there are any guidelines or protocols established by parade organizers regarding animals participating, but while many humans marching had water with them for their comfort,(and all wore shoes), I didn’t see any water carried by the people accompanying the dogs. I am entirely sure that those folks love and care for their animals very much, but perhaps they are unaware of just how uncomfortable and dangerous the heat is for their pets. This applies not only to the marchers in the parade, but for spectators who had brought dogs along with them. While we were waiting for the parade to begin, there was a couple sitting on the steps of the post office behind us in the bright sun, with a little terrier on a leash, for quite some time. The dog was panting, and apparently trying to get into the small patch of shade created by the shadow of two men standing and talking nearby. My husband got up and went across the street to the church and got a bowl of water for the dog, but the couple had moved on by the time he got back. To some shade, we hope.

Perhaps parade organizers need to have restrictions on under what conditions animals can participate. And, as much as we all love to have our dogs with us as much as possible, I hope everyone will choose to leave their canine friends in a cool, comfortable spot at home on these "dog days."

Heidi Mario,

Brattleboro, July 5