As a musician, I am used to a peaceful view of life. But there are people who, somehow, are not able to live without complications.
Let’s say that you know that a local music teacher Association organizes nice events every year where teachers can let their best students play in a nice Hall. Let’s say that you decide to join this Association and to take advantage of the events that this association proposes in your area. You would expect to meet nice and courteous people, colleagues who share their passion for music and are eager to support each other.
If everybody plays by the rules, this is a fantastic opportunity to grow pedagogically and to make new connections. If there is a foul play, this experience will become your worst nightmare and you will regret your decision to pay that damned local membership for the rest of your life (well, this is exaggerated!).
Let’s make an example. Let’s pretend that I am a teacher who has too many students and I really want to support ALL of them, so that parents will be happy with my shaky teaching abilities. In fact, I wouldn’t teach American students at all, as in my mind they cannot behave and they don’t practice as much as I ask them for. My expectations are more important than my students’. Since I cannot deal with “normal” students, they cannot deal with me either. I accept only students who would learn anyway, also if my dog would teach them.
This Association allows each teacher… let’s say, 6 students for each event. This number is way too small for my expectations. I want to let perform as many students as possible. What can I do? Let’s say I have an ingenious husband, who doesn’t play any instrument.
Foul play #1:
my husband will become a member of the teachers association and apply for his (my) students. Nobody will really check if he is a real teacher or a false one. If I have a daughter, a son, a grandma… it will work for them as well. Since there are no rules about membership, your baby can probably become a member or be elected in the board of directors. Are there any age limits at all?
Foul play #2:
let’s pretend that my students only play two pieces a year, very difficult pieces that are repeated over and over again until perfect. I don’t care to practice with them other skills nor to teach them what every music teacher should. I require them to take 60 minutes lessons from me, so I’ll have less students and a full time job. It doesn’t really matter if the students actually need 60 minutes or not: since students are well behaved and they will do whatever I tell them to do, one hour lessons allow me to realize my ambitions, coaching them as you would for sports. I am also getting paid for that!
OK… now, let’s say go in third person example. I feel bad in the dress of a teacher who is able to teach only very good students: there is no merit in teaching what students already know. Now I am only observing this teacher behavior from a different point of view.
Foul play #3:
this teacher’s son is unemployed and is in need of more money. He is uneducated and rude. This uneducated son joins your local music association, cooperates in playing the teacher and then, since he can see a business where other teachers see just students, he starts planning “competitions” without even knowing what competitions are for. It is just a way to earn money through parents who are willing to spend more money. True teachers are busy teaching, the false teacher writes business plans: he has enough free time to day-dream.
Flou play #4:
then, greedy for more “titles”, he “volunteers” also in the board of directors of that local association you joined, so he can network for his upcoming BIG competition. He calls teachers, talking about his BIG business idea, he dreams to become the Hollywood starlette through a bunch of hard-working teachers.
If he calls YOU, you are already in your own nightmare.
Yes… because now you are his customer. In his mind, you have to pay him for those services you never requested.
At one point, you decide that you would like to send a few applications for your students for an upcoming audition. You enclose bravely a check in an envelope together with the applications for the students and send everything by the deadline. Nothing difficult, right?
But what if the person you had to send the check to is the Hollywood starlette, who has no clue about how to organize information? Imagine for a moment this unexperienced guy opening the envelope and letting your check somewhere. No problem? You think so. Normal people would solve this issue in very simple ways. But this guy has a complicated and troubled mind and a big mouth. So… things are going to be really complicated as well.
You may incur in some public humiliations- aka this starlette’s mom could ask you in a crowded public space: “WHERE IS YOUR MONEY?” … Rude, right? You would probably ignore that for a moment and answer nicely that you have sent everything.
So… after a while you realize that eventually your precious check is lost. OK. Before you report the check as stolen, you may want to ask more. Eventually you would also ask that you would prefer such issues to be discussed privately, right? You can also feel to have the right to be a little bit offended.
Usually the average member would just apologize and that’s it. But no… the clever son has a better idea. He feels the power of his “title”. Why not playing the little dictator? “No… mom, let me answer this for you.”
He might write things like: “the complaint department is closed”.
(Where do you live, little boy? USA is a free land, where arguing and complaints are highly valued as well as opinions. But there is still the totalitarian system elsewhere, if you’d like to move away.)
Or better: “While transparent, (? what is “transparent”? I am missing a subject in this sentence!) the tactic of emailing publicly (?? how do you email privately?) to bull my mom (ahhh… family business! Do you know what “bullying” means? It is exactly what you are doing, little boy) in order to fix your mistake (what mistake are you talking about?) is not going to work (yes, sir!). You failed, period.” (What does it mean???? Question MARKSSS)
Or eventually: “In the future, as you put it please read the rules.” (I copied that from an email that I actually received: mistakes are copyrighted)
And then, Freud’s best client: “As the competition is a week away, unfortunately your compositions can not perform.” (you believed it was just an audition for a recital, right? No… it is THE COMPETITION, his own competition!! And what kind of “compositions” could actually be able to “perfom” themselves? BTW… I am also not a composer, you might think)
At this point you decide that this is enough and you don’t want to deal with that. You call the “normal” teachers, or the President, who should be responsible for the overall administration of the organization, and complain about this behavior. Eventually you might be lucky and this President will be able to understand those situations. Mostly they don’t, as they retain their personal relationship with those people and somehow you are the last arrived member. Probably little son is right and the “complaint department” is closed.
Do you think your nightmare is over?
It will continue, as, since people try still to be nice with him despite his mistakes, this unfortunate son believes that now he has won! (what?)
So, you might consider yourself lucky if you receive such kind of emails:
“I just received a phone call from my mom who explained that you called
(DID I CALL HER?????)
and were gracious enough
(WHAT IS THAT??? Metaphor for ANGRY enough??)
to present a viable explanation
Your realization that sending inflammatory emails
(ahahah… Bipolar disorder?)
is not right
(eventually he didn’t realize people were talking about him?)
is much appreciated
and we have decided
to allow your compositions
(?? I am NOT A COMPOSER!!!)
to participate to the upcoming competition.
(to what? I HATE COMPETITIONS!)
(Once upon a time)
instead of this,
(instead of this written text)
(again, pluralis majestatis)
that we will receive
(of course, call 911: they are fast enough!)
(? Are there any consequences? I paid my fees, that’s it. The only good thing is that I am not going to pay anything anymore. Thanks!)
we will fail ourselves
(you already succeeded: congratulations!)
At this point it will be your pleasure to write:
“As it seems you have never received my checks, I reported my checks as stolen.
Since the rules are clear, it is my understanding that if there are no checks, there are no auditions.”
It is good to be involved in various local activities, but, as soon as you see those kind of people around, RUN AWAY! It is not worth your time, your money and your patience. Music can become a very dirty business with such false people around.
Keep music clean.