Sunday, May 21, 2006

Teachers and Students

Tina Firesheets has a great article on Brandon Davis and Jane Van Middlesworth in today's News & Record. A great teacher can not only change a student's life, but that student can become a teacher and do the same for other students.

I knew a talented student like Brandon when I was in high school. I was a senior in the high school marching band (here come the band geek comments), and our band was consistently one of the best in the country.

Our director had a seventh grade drummer about to enter an individual competition. He wanted this kid to play in front of people at least once before he faced judges, so he brought him to the high school one morning. He was barely big enough to handle his snare drum. As he entered the band room and stood alone facing the best high school band within several hundred miles, I felt sorry for him.

That was my mistake.

He unleashed 90 seconds of the best drumming I have ever heard. When he stopped, the room fell completely silent. It was clear after six months of drumming at the junior high, he was better than anyone in our drum line and was probably better than anyone we had seen in national competition.

His name is Tracy Thornton, and he eventually traded in his snare drum for a steel drum. He has taught drumming to hundreds of students and continues to play professionally, including dates with Jimmy Buffet and Kenny Chesney later this summer.

I cannot imagine the waste of talent that might have occurred if Tracy had not found drumming and been encouraged by our band director (who deserves a whole series of posts from me). I bet the people who know Brandon feel the same way.


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