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From the Assistant Editor: Appreciating the arts

Chris Bashaw, Assistant Editor
10:55 am PST February 18, 2014

This week’s issue includes two stories pertaining to Malibu students in the performing arts: a preview of “Alice In Wonderland” that will be put on by Malibu Middle School students this week, and the “Stairway of the Stars” concerts that concluded last week.

While there’s no word on the horizon that I’ve heard at a Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board meeting about slashing funding for the performing arts, I’d like to reiterate how important the arts are to a young person’s development.

Forgive the personal anecdote, but talking about something like this almost demands it.

When I was in high school, all of those years ago, the threat of budget cuts and a crippled performing arts program loomed over my school in a cash-strapped district.

I was a cellist in the orchestra and sang bass in the choir, and I recall almost everything I did revolving around music – right down to penning a quartet for two violins, a viola and a cello when I should have been mastering trigonometry, which, in hindsight, may be, partially, how I ended up in journalism.

Albeit not well, I taught myself to play bass guitar and later mandolin when I found myself charmed by traditional Irish music.

Despite my ardent attempts and desire to play music, however, I was just never good enough to make anything more of it, and I often felt guilty that I couldn’t return my parent’s generosity with prodigy whenever they’d hand me a new instrument to tinker with.

It was a sad day when I realized I hadn’t touched my mandolin for a few months, and I’ve found it hard to let it and my bass guitar go to new owners, although I had donated my cello to my high school’s music program.

The dream of being a musician slowly seeped from me when I realized that I simply didn’t fit into that part of the world, but none of my efforts or time were ever wasted.

While music taught me discipline, creativity and how to intellectually challenge myself, it also taught me how to be brutally honest with myself as I, and my interests, changed – and that’s a skill that has given me permission to be confident in my goals and accepting of myself as I changed.  

Those are just a few things that I still carry with me to this day from my musical education, and that’s the very reason why it’s called a “musical education” at all – every child will learn something different, but I guarantee he or she will learn something of value.

While I no longer tote a mandolin around my shoulder or a cello on my back, I can still read music flawlessly – that, and I’ll sometimes catch myself humming the opening measures to Bach’s “Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major” as I edit photos or go over my notes.