Burnett Thompson Blog

January 31, 2011

President Obama

Filed under: music, music education — burnett @ 8:12 am

      I was starting to feel left out of the current administration, until I was suddenly included in a small dinner party, and subsequently a casual gathering of friends and colleagues which happened to include the President of the Unitied States.  They say that in New York, you have to be there and then maybe something good will happen.  I guess the same is true here in D.C.  You never know when you will be holding the door for Liz Taylor or playing the piano for Mandy Patinkin and Herbie Hancock, or…standing next to the President.  Finally, all of these things have actually happened.

Let me back up a bit.  During the administration of President George W. Bush, I was suddently talking   at great length with him on the subject of public school music education.  To his pleasure, I brought up the matter of the excellent music program in Texas public schools.  And of course there is the issue that half of the military jazz musicians that play in the White House are North Texas Univ. grads.  The chat took place on Jan. 26, 2001, at the home of David Schwartz, the architect for the Texas Rangers baseball stadium.  There were not more than 25 people at the event, which happened to be David’s 50th birthday.  On another occasion, I made a point of hiring a pair of retired military musicians to perform for President Bush.   (Both musicians arrived late for the occasion and gave new meaning to the word “retired”.)

No such conversation took place with President Obama, to my dismay.  Things happen fast in that arena, so my meaningful chat is still in the future.  The subject?  Public school music education.  My theory?  Since you are going to have ’standard of learning’ tests in public schools, please include Foreign Language, Art, and Music.  (At present, we have English, Science, Math, and History.)

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