Thursday, February 7, 2013

You all missed a great show!

I was talking with a woman the other day about Mankato and sports, and how so much of this town's culture is tied to athletics.

Which is great. I love that fact that so many kids are involved in sports. It keeps them active, social, it teaches them the value of teamwork, how to get along with people -- basic building blocks of living within a community.

But when it comes to the arts ... well ... I'm not sure we're as evolved.

I went to a band concert last night. Now just hold on, I know what you're thinking: "Here we go, another blurb about how great his kids are in the band blah blah blah clarinet blah blah blah saxophone blah blah blah."

It wasn't my kid's concert. (We may get to the blah blah blah, but hear me out first.)

Last night at Mankato West High School the St. Olaf Band made the last stop on its annual winter tour before heading back to Northfield for its final winter tour concert. If you're unfamiliar with such things (and for most part, I am very unfamiliar, but I'm learning a lot these last few years) St. Olaf is one of the premiere colleges for music. Certainly they are one of the best in the region, probably one of the best in the nation among liberal arts schools.

Their arrival in the West auditorium should have been met with a few hundred people. But as I sat comfortably in my chair -- surrounded by plenty of empty chairs -- I looked around. If the other onlookers and I had been so inclined, we maybe -- maybe -- could have fielded a pair of football teams and went at it in the back parking lot. With the kids in the balcony who were strongly urged to attend by West Band Director Brady Krusemark, we could have had a humble little cheering section rooting us on.

St. Olaf's band was amazing. And I don't use that word lightly. If you're the kind of person that truly appreciates music, you would have loved this concert. Alas ... hardly anyone showed.

Obviously, that's not the only band concert that takes place in town. Several times each year, the Mankato West concert and symphonic bands play, as well as the band from Dakota Meadows Middle School. Across town, the East bands play in their auditorium. The musicians on the east side of town are just as good as the musicians on the west side of town. And let's not forget Loyola, and Immanuel Lutheran, and all the other schools in the region. All have great music programs, all have great musicians.

But when it comes time to play for the community, the community that shows up is generally the parents of the kids on stage. And I get that, too. Most youth sporting events that take place in this town are attended by the parents of the kids playing.

I've been to my share of football games and basketball games. It's great to see the stands full of people at those games and it's obvious the fans in the stands aren't just the parents of players. It's the community, too, which rightfully comes to see our kids performing at a high level.

We've been running articles in the paper lately about the high school athletes who are making decisions about where they'll play college soccer or football or hockey. Which is fantastic. It's great to see kids excel to a degree that will allow them to continue competing at the college level.

Did you know we have musicians who have been making those same decisions based on their ability to play a trumpet, or flute, or a clarinet, or a tuba, or a saxophone? We do. And they're every bit as accomplished in what they do as the kids on the football field or basketball court.

I will continue to go to football games. What I'm suggesting is that people who haven't been a band concert should check one out. You're missing out by not experiencing our talented musicians.


  1. I was surprised at the poor attendance but shouldn't have been. I didn't know about the concert until my daughter invited me yesterday morning. I tried to find some publicity about it but could find none. The performance was amazing!

  2. I understand your message. I also understand that when people have a natural voice, driven by good intentions, it still feels like you are running carelessly on the edge of a lions den. No easy or comforting feat, so hats off to you for all you've done. I hope to someday read your thoughts and passions, because they really are spot on, after you jump into the den and stomp on the toes. If I had to guess, which I don't do often, you might be surprised by the people already in there, right with you, or not far behind. Only good things come from good thought and actions, right? Or so I've been told. Can we just wake up the lions and get it over with please, I'm truly tired of PC, back door, fear the man OR woman, disconnected heart. My guess, there is no lion, just the fear of. That fear alone is enough to protect our survival, stay clear, drop hints hoping for others to follow. That's not what we really need, we need others to stop following. And it doesn't protect us. This town is like a high school. How many felt good through that, before, during, or after? It was an unhappy, confusing, and alone place. You want families and community, be the change. You have a platform, you have then floor. If you can't protect and find piece for your family jumping, then just ask the question. Let the other people on the edge or in the den do it for you.

    1. Peace. Like the 60's, not the portion. I hate spell check.

    2. I don't understand. Sorry.

      I'm not sure if you're agreeing with me or calling me a fool for speaking out, or calling me a hypocrite, or a coward ...

      This is really quite cryptic.

  3. Lol, I agree with you. I read a lot of your blogs right in a row. You have very good points in them. I think people feel like fools for speaking out, or rebels, or worry about people calling them hypocrites and thinking they have personal motivations.

    I commend you for taking notice and calling attention to areas that are in serious need of attention. Not enough people have the courage to say anything about unpleasant truth, for fear of stepping on someone's toes. ,maybe the wrong someone. People get territorial and defensive or offended quickly.

    My point, you're not alone, hopefully you don't feel that way during the times you have a harsher truth to present. And your blog is a great way to pose questions and let people speak their minds. As long as it is from a caring and supportive place, trying to call attention to improve lives, like yours are.

    My other point, or question, do you find more action in asking people to join you or letting them know where your thoughts and actions are?