Dick Bernard: A visit to the “Canyon of 60 Abandon”; and music in the country.

Ross ND Marching Band on Parade in Williston ND, 1954.

My birthday, Thursday, was just as I liked: quiet, the usual morning coffee, then Minnesota Orchestra, and dinner at W.A. Frost in later afternoon. I’m grateful for the many Facebook comments to Thursdays “birthday post.

A gift to me some years ago was a TED talk by Louie Schwartzberg called Gratitude. Here is the link to it, a gift transferred to you.

In my birthday post, I shared a 3 second YouTube of Grandpa Bernard at 77. Yesterday came a three second cut of myself at 2:24 of a 3 minute video from April 29, 2017, at “The World is My Country” (a film in which I’ve been directly involved). See the video here, if you wish.

May 4, at coffee I began to generate a list of elders who have influenced my life since I retired in 2000. To this day, with these folks – the ones still alive – I will remain “just a kid”.

I was remembering a long ago conference of the National Education Association in the far suburbs of Houston TX in November, 1998, where the major workshop, was entitled “The Canyon of 60 Abandon”. It became my Christmas greeting for 2000 which speaks for itself: Canyon of 60 Abandon002.

My list was really quite long, about half women, half men. Most recent of note was our friend Annelee Woodstrom, age 90, who was honored a week or so ago by the arts community in northwest Minnesota. They didn’t know, apparently, till the event, that she is about to complete her third book, to be published perhaps this summer. All of those on my list, in various ways, at various times, have, to borrow the phrase, “touched, moved and inspired” me.

Most noteworthy was Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, who seemed to go on and on as conductor emeritus of the Minnesota Orchestra. He conducted his last concert just months before he died Feb. 21, 2017 at 93. We saw him conduct several times in his last years. Here’s more about him, if you wish: Skrowaczewski001

We all have such a list. A good day to remember some of yours!

At the Minnesota Orchestra concert for May 4 – we’re long time subscribers – in the program I saw an essay by the late Minnesota poet and writer Bill Holm, who grew up in the small town of Minneota MN. You can read his Essay here: Bill Holm001.

Holm, in his essay, talks about education and a teacher who played the violin in his small town.

I related to the story, since my entire upbringing was in tiny North Dakota towns – Minneota was a “big city” compared to any of mine and, as many of you know, my parents were the teachers in all of them. (The photo which leads this post was in Williston ND, of the Ross ND marching band, ca summer of 1954 or such.)

Many of our small towns had two or three high school teachers, and perhaps three elementary school instructors. There was no room for specialization. And there were the characters, as Bill Holm describes, though I will defend to the death the value of small town education (while not dismissing its problems).

Music in these small towns was more miss than hit, of course. Only once in awhile was a town lucky enough to have a teacher who’d been in a band somewhere.

In 8th grade, in Ross, I at least learned the scales on a clarinet. Miss Stone, down in Antelope, and Sr. Rose, in Sykeston, attempted to teach me piano (I still see that metronome.). Miss Stone, I learned later, was conservatory trained, somewhere out east. It didn’t help her, with me!

I was told that my brother, Frank, did an amazing job with Taps on Memorial Day in Sykeston ca 1960; sister Flo ruined many an early morning practicing on the snare drums below we boys bedroom. (She was probably doing a good job, but the practice time and venue was not ideal for the older brother upstairs!)

And someone, Mom or Dad or both, liked to listen to live broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera on Saturday afternoons.

As Mr. Holm was inspired by the eccentric Mr. Peabody, so did osmosis work its magic on we kids, in assorted ways. For years I’ve loved music (but I never did to learn to play an instrument!)

As age goes on, we learn what we have learned….

All best.

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POSTNOTE: As with Mr. Holm in Minneota, some of the music bug rubbed off on me. We are longtime subscribers to the Minnesota Orchestra; a week ago grandson Ted and I completed our second Jazz season at Orchestra Hall; Sunday, grandson and granddaughter Ted and Kelly perform at the Ordway Theatre in St. Paul as part of the Angelica Cantanti Youth Choirs. Come on over, if you’re in the area. It will be very much worth your time. The youth choirs are wonderful.

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