I thought quite a bit this last weekend about beauty. I attended a rehearsal and concert (which I will describe in more detail in a later post) that had some very beautiful music. One of the things we did in preparation for the concert was audition soloists. There were several teachers there to narrow down the soloists for the director to have an easier choice. While some of the soloists were not as prepared as they should have been, and others clearly lacked the "chops" to carry the solo, none of the auditions were of the bleeding-ear variety.
The thing that amazed me, however, was the fact that the other directors were more annoyed than I that this audition did not produce the mind-numbing beauty they were hoping to get. As I ruminated on this state of affairs, during the course of the rest of the weekend, I found myself becoming jealous, at times, of my colleagues who work in larger school districts, and are able to experience music on a grander scale than my little town can achieve. Then I began to feel sorry for them.
You see, they have reached a point at which beauty has become commonplace. This is not to suggest that they do not enjoy their work, nor am I implying that they are not (nor should not) reach for ever-increasing levels of mastery and expression. I am simply saying that the beauty which they enjoy on a daily basis, yet find lacking, brings me to tears of delight once or twice a year.
I brought this up today with the inmates I direct. They get it. We do not fully appreciate the beauty around us until we are in a place where it is not always apparent. Yes--I know there is beauty around me, even in my little town. Visual beauty abounds in our area of the country, and on the faces of the young people I teach every day.
I marvel at times that these simple children, with their simple voices and innocent hearts are capable of such breath-taking sounds as they produce sometimes. We continually say how amazing it is that we are able to take two dozen or so girls in our auditioned choir--most of whom would be placed in the beginning choirs of any large school--and in ten months turn them into an ensemble that receives the praise of the community, other directors, and their own peers.
I see beauty. I, like my colleagues, sometimes take it for granted. But I still see it (and hear it). I strive for it. And I will try to recognize it more often. Perhaps, in the end, that will be enough. To quote myself from the end of every concert: