Category Archives: education

The Surveyor.

Bill hadn’t played his cello, for years.

We’d both studied with the same first teacher, Dimitri, but several years apart, never crossing paths coming up. However, about a year ago, in that roundabout random way, somebody hooked us up and Bill became yet another adult member of the studio of multi-aged students I’d established back in 1989 after my first trip into the world of Suzuki-based musical instruction at Stephens’ Point, WI.

The two of us, Bill and I, were now nearly 65 years old.

We private teachers of musical instruments run the gamut. Some are self taught, promoters of their own unique styles and approaches; others are conventionally and soundly trained by conservatories; still others come by their skills employing a mixture of acquired pedagogies and “shoot from the hip” instinct.

But, we all take on students, and that for reasons both selfish and noble. Some do because it’s easy money, no accounting for quality; others want to produce the next Perlman, Botti, or Ma; but among us authentic, Suzuki-registered devotees is a collective desire to help each, young or old, grow to enjoy the ability to make good, solid, beautiful music.

Bill was immediately likeable. He had the twinkly eyes, a clean cut presence, and a gentle demeanor. And, he said, his daughter (with whom I’d collaborated while she’d been a college student) wanted him to get some help with intonation. Sure thing, I told him; he’d come to the right place.

We set about some serious ear training. Dimitri had always been about tone, the bow trajectory, himself tall and lean, striding back and forth before us with puffing pipe, declaring with sweeping, long armed gestures: “Seeeng mit de chellow! SEEEEENG!” And, seeeeeng we did. We sang with our bows, drawing full resonance, sound albeit perhaps sourly out of tune, but big and glorious for Dimitri.

Bill already knew how to produce full, Dimitri style tone. So, the two of us worked on his ear, via his muscle memory, with keen aural attention. Pitch by pitch, Bill mastered the G major scale, pocket by pocket, until he could get through a whole Book I tune without losing its tonal center.

We moved on, into pieces which had more complex structure. He’d played some pretty advanced works of music by master composers, in the years between our lessons with Dimitri and the day we’d finally met. They’d been out of tune then, and they were now as well. We addressed all that, phrase by phrase, and there was no denying how much he cared, how earnestly he applied himself, and how each week he’d demonstrate noticeable improvement.

But, once we were all forced to go virtual, and Zoom et al afforded us zero opportunity to play together, I began to pick up on another curious feature about Bill. When playing alone, he seemed completely devoid of any internal rhythm. Even when counting, he’d start out fine but lose it midway, either accelerating or dragging until the steady beat was a vapor.

Bill understood note values. He realized that they each had specific duration. He just couldn’t express duration, when he played. Relative recognition, but complete imprecision, there was no steady beat in his consciousness.

Before anyone reading this thinks that I am in the habit of denigrating or throwing shade on any of my students, stay with me; there’s a point, here, and it’s probably not what you might be thinking.

Teachers are supposed to care about their students, hands down. But, I believe we should also strive to know them. Know them, fully. Get into their heads. And, with adults, this necessitates getting into their histories.

What was Bill about? How had he spent the bulk of his adult life?

Not as a cellist. Nope. Bill was a Security guard.

In fact, he’d begun his career as a policeman, in one of our outlying counties. From there, he’d moved to Baltimore MD, joining a force of about four thousand. Then, he became a Federal Marshall, spending decades in this field and, now, in retirement, Bill was the lone Security Guard for a major, local medical center.

As I sat listening to Bill play, I tried to get deeply into his brain. I wanted to become familiar with how his lifelong habits informed everything about him. Why was he unable to stay focused on the steady beat, even with the metronome pounding into his left ear?

I followed him from the beginning of the song to the end, and then it hit me. Bill had been trained to employ a global view. He was all about the entire scope of the environment, not the details. Any officer caught fixating on one aspect, one person’s behavior, is a cop waiting to be overtaken by a crafty criminal specializing in slight of hand. No wonder he couldn’t stay with the pulse; about a minute in, his brain would go panoramic. To the observer, his mind may have appeared to “wander”, to have “lost concentration”; but, in Bill’s world, he was merely returning to his job — as grand surveyor.

Bill being more than just pleasant, but gallant, he took to my confronting this with grace and deference. In fact, he concurred completely. I posited that he might, at work, entertain the occasional interchange of small talk with the proverbial smile and nod, but that absorbing conversational content was all an act. Again, he concurred. He didn’t like big parties, he said. He couldn’t concentrate on anything anybody ever said to him. At this point, surprise; I told him I was exactly the same. Relatability, the essence of common ground.

So, now Bill had a plan. He could harness his widely scanning, revolving, weather vane of a brain to the task of actual focus for 3 solid minutes during the passage of time required to produce a musical tune. He knew now when during the piece he’d likely veer off, and would set his intent with resolve to stay with that pulse through to the end.

Many teachers might question this conclusion. Excessive over think. Unnecessary analysis of basic inability. I stand in challenge, to all that. To my seasoned experience, there is no such thing, inability. There is only absence of informed understanding. The brain, and the mind which governs it, continues to produce – new cells, new blood vessel pathways; the mind, who is kidding whom, here? is as infinite as the God Who created it.

As we age, let’s remember that our successes are never either defined or limited by years.

Bill, the cellist, will tell you.

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© 1/11/22 Ruth Ann Scanzillo/littlebarefeetblog.com. All rights those of the author, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line. Thank you for respecting rights of authorship, and for being the better person.

The Implicit Complicit.

What is implicit trust?

It’s implied trust. It’s trust which is almost automatic, reflected in actions which represent that trust. Unfortunately, massive numbers of people act on implicit trust – and, most of them never take the extra steps required to verify that the foundation of their trust is worthy.

The medical industry was thought to be an institution worthy of implicit trust. But, as of about 1947, when the Rockefellers basically paid for the medical school concept and gave birth to pharmacology, American citizens handed off their precious willingness to trust to those whose agenda had nothing to do with actual human health. What I have learned by delving into the documented evidence as disclosed by those with direct access to it is both mind boggling and spirit scathing.

Now, the insurance industry, with planned obsolescence(calculations based in likely length of life – did you know that your coverage is based in your predicted date of death?) as its governing mentality, is the foundational funding source for all American medicine. Corporations offer major medical insurance to their employees, and the medical industry takes profit to the bank under the auspices of care and compassion. Individual medical practitioners are neither at fault for this, nor can they exert any power or control over it; in actual fact, they are completely subject to it!

Ask any physician how much is spent per year on their own insurance, particularly malpractice, and you will have gathered a valuable piece of data to support this argument. Yes; everyone except the insurance companies, and the medical corporations funded by them, are now their obedient subjects.

Enter the sick patient, and the family surrounding that patient. Whence their actual choices? What are the parameters, the freedoms and limits, of said choices?

Primary care physicians only think that they can act independently; in reality, unless they give up all affiliation, they cannot. Only recently, at the state level, dictates have been handed down to all of them collectively: support the promoted vaccines exclusively as treatment for covid, with no discussion or debate of alternative treatments allowed, or risk losing the very medical license one has earned. That is fact. Look it up.

What of hospitals, or major medical centers? Private hospitals depend on private funding, just like private educational institutions. These struggle mightily to remain financially afloat as they witness the swift conglomeration of corporate consolidation. Now, major medical centers’ monikers reflect not venerated medical legends by name, but the financial institutions which fund them. And, said financial institutions are invariably insurance based.

Yes. The insurance industry has displaced every other industry in both power and influence. The insurance industry calls all the shots – an alleged institution which is based in controlling how much money is allocated to humans based entirely upon their predicted life span. How chilling is that. Makes me want to scurry out to the garden and check on the winter vegetables. Oh, wait. I’m behind. I have to plant those, first.

Know this reality. You are hardly free. You are become a subject – not to the Power greater than self, but to an entity which seeks to displace the very Power which breathed life into each of us. All we have remaining is our will, and our determination, and our tenacity to withstand.

We must no longer be complicit. We must mobilize. Strength in numbers, while we are still alive, defying the very insidiously corrupt system which seeks to determine our very length of days. Let’s put our faith in our collective strength, and make that trust implicit.

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© 12/01/21 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. No copying, in whole or part including translation, permitted without signed written permission of the author. Respect the rights of the Creator, and the created creatives. Thank you, especially to Dr. David E. Martin whose mentoring influenced this piece.

littlebarefeetblog.com

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The Line.

They were only subtle signs.

Last night. Momentary maxillofacial symptoms, then one sided nasal congestion. Hard to name how or why, seeing as the four plus hours just spent over two days working in my own yard and on the sidewalk beside my house hardly qualified as social immersion. No fever; just breathing restriction. Popped a squirt of HP in the ears and Budesonide in each nostril, and went back to bed. Had taken my most recent dose of IVM the previous Thursday.

The next morning, after a starkly sleepless night (anxiety…nasal steroid…) I pushed through two and a half hours of carotid and veinous ultrasound, flat on my back. The tech had taken the vax but had also had covid, a year ago; so, though we both masked, he wasn’t a concern. The pharynx was still irritated, and I was in denial.

Upon arriving home, pacing a little, I stared at the packet of meds which had been my prophylaxis of choice for the past five months. Did a quick cheese toast, and took two more IVM pills. Within an hour, did I feel better?

Outside, to continue tackling my newest manic creative project, the backyard renovation. Some children new to the neighborhood had set a small fire on my grass. I was inspired.

Thirty minutes and, back inside, to eat, and socially mediate those I had offended, a daily occurrence anymore. By 8:30pm, my body had finished with this charade; it was time to get twelve hours of uninterrupted, deeply deprived REM. But, was the pharynx getting raw again, and why was the house cold?

After a few choice Messenger sign offs, I slept.

Two hours.

Awake now, in a rush a bowl of gnocchi and one apple crisp to the oven. Did I have Delta? From whom, exactly? The dull witted unmasked millennial walking by who didn’t have the energy to lift my overfull bins to upright? Did I touch them, after he did? Had I bent down one too many times to scrape at the sidewalk traveled daily by dog walkers, mailmen, children, strange loners…all unmasked, many spitting on the pavement in some slumtown ritual of territorial dominance…?

The headline tonight, splayed across CNN, declared that Canada and Mexico will throw open their borders once again, come November. To the, well, you already know. To the vaccinated.

I’m not. Don’t ask. But now, fighting back against this pestery, lowgrade, hallmarking set of Delta encroaching symptoms, wondering how many days I’ll get and whether I’ll be spared the dreaded loss of life’s last pure pleasure, the taste of food…….I know my next soapbox. It’s all laid out, crisply painted, fresh and ready:

Since when on either this Earth or in my lifetime did a needle ever trump the human body’s natural immunity, AT THE BORDER?! How can Americans NOT be allowed to exchange their commerce and creative drive with Toronto or Mexico City, lest they take a SHOT?!

As usual, I’ll remain silent – acquiescent; compliant; obedient. NOT.

Since when did a robust immune system, able to fight off with a hardly noticeable 48 hours of infection, get punished at the state line for failing to secure a rubber stamp to the forehead? Just what is so wrong with this picture, and who are the puny holdouts still refusing to say so, aloud?

The lines will form. There are always several – one for cars; one for trucks; one for those waved over to relinquish the contents of their seam-bursting hatchbacks.

I’ll be in the one carrying the signs.

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©10/11/21 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. Sharing by blog link, exclusively. Thank you for respecting the writer.

littlebarefeetblog.com