You teach your children some fashion sense
And they fashion some of their own
- Gordon Downie

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Value of the Arts

This week has taken me back to the value of the arts. Sports and outdoor pursuits dominated my childhood. No piano lessons, choral instruction or drama classes for this cowboy. I did, however, attend every hockey school my parents could afford. The result? I played junior hockey, which paid for my education. But somehow, I can't help but think that something was missing from my childhood.

As a child, I certainly had a dramatic side. The first day my kindergarten teacher read us the Three Billy Goats Gruff, I couldn't help but be the troll under the bridge, complete with scary troll voice. In grade four, I had difficulty being quiet. One afternoon, I could not help but sing the jingle from a particularly catchy Kraft Pizza television ad. During my second warning, my teacher told me that if I couldn't stop singing, I would have to sing in front of the entire class. I don't think she expected me to take her up on the offer. I called her bluff and she had to let me lead the class in "The Other Day, I Met a Bear." In grade six, I got the part of Marley's ghost in the school operetta. Unfortunately, the early onset of puberty meant that my singing voice cracked horribly. Eventually, my teacher suggested "Ted, just SAY the words to the song." I may have been the world's first white rapper. Oh - and I fell down the stairs during the dress rehearsal in front of the entire school, including my little sister and her creepy little friends. After elementary school, the arts were not part of my education or my life. Sports, friends, cars and Led Zeppelin took over.

I have always loved music but lack training, knowledge and musical ability of any kind. Some of that changed this year because I got the opportunity to take my younger son to his Music for Young Children classes. Now, I can at least read music. I've played a duet with my son. I'm still tone deaf and have a poor singing voice. Either way, I'm feeling a bit more complete.

On Monday, my children had their year end piano recital. My older son opened the recital by playing the national anthem (beautifully, I might add...) My younger boy played a version of "Do Your Ears Hang Low." The pieces ranged from simple and cute to wonderful, artistic renditions of difficult music. What struck me as I looked around the room was the look of intense pride on parents' faces as they listened to their children. I couldn't help but think back to the looks on the faces of hockey parents. I spend most of the winter watching and coaching minor hockey. Hockey parents definitely have their proud moments, but the looks are so much different to me. I'm not sure if it isthe intensity of the looks or the range of emotions that sets their reactions apart.

No judgments here - just observations. In the end, I'm glad that my kids had the chance to see the "Hockey" look of pride and the "Music" look of pride. And I'm glad that they had balance in their lives.


  1. Great start to your new life - the musical,athletic blogger! I enjoyed the read and a look inside Ted's head. Thanks. I'll be back often and will add a link to your blog on my site if that's kosher by you Oivin.

  2. Good stuff! I just gave you a thumbs up on stumble upon

  3. Well done, Ted! I was afraid at first to read what was in Ted's head (lol), but I'm glad I read on. The arts are hugely important for kids. Music teaches kids so much - perseverance, courage, rhythm (gotta get those boys dancing so they can kick it up when they are older!). I'm glad that you are showing your kids all of their possibilities. They will sort the rest out for themselves. Keep blogging!

  4. Nice start to a new blogging career, Ted.

    I too think upon my childhood and am so thankful for all the opportunities and experiences my parents offered me. And I do think of what I was not exposed to or chose to ignore.

    I was never a reader as a child. If you told me when I was grade 8 that I would grow up to become a teacher who loves to read and write, I would have laughed you out of the room.

    When teachers asked me to write a journal or a diary, I was very negative about it. I refused to even give it a try. It was not something a boy or man would do. How wrong was I...

    I'm also musically incompetent, and remain so to this day. I may be rectifying my reading deficiencies, I have a lot to do with music.

    I fear that my lack of music interest and skills will have an affect on my children. Or maybe she will get interested in music or a second language and end up teaching me... that would be cool

    thanks for sharing


  5. Congratulations on starting a blog. On your first day you have all kinds of fans ready to take a shot at you. That's the fun of blogging.
    As parents we don't always know what exactly to point our kids to. I did not get sports or arts. I do enjoy music. Tonight at 7:00PM on CBC listen to Vinyl Tap with Randy Bachman. Good music and lots of info from Randy.

  6. Thanks for all the great comments. My goal is to write daily and I have a big backlog of ideas, so this should be an interesting new adventure.