I was checking my emails while on my tour of Ontario and Quebec last month when a school teacher from Prince Edward Island sent this photo to my inbox. When I saw this project, something in my heart was pulled and my eyes started to well up with tears immediately. I’m such a softy.I have had a number of students do school projects on me, which really a)feels great and b)I find to be totally ironic.
Not to sound like the typical touring musician, but I was the furthest thing from a ‘good’ student in school. It was a really weird time in my life. I never really ‘hated’ school, I just always felt like it was a shoe that didn’t quite fit. A relationship that was luke warm at best.
Even in early grades I was always getting into some sort of trouble. Whether it was rolling my eyes at teachers, or singing at my desk when people were trying to read. I cheated on math tests in the fourth grade. WHO CHEATS IN THE FOURTH GRADE!?! eesh I wonder if I’ll get into trouble for admitting this now… I was such a little weirdo.
I guess I just never saw the point of school. I think a big thing for me was that I didn’t like the feeling of not having any power. I sang every Sunday at church and at community halls; and I had a lot of respect that came from that and was treated like I was older and then to get back to school where teachers would treat you like….well, I guess like a kid! I never thought of myself as a rebel, but I guess I kind of was. I was just always pissing somebody off. Careers days at school only led to more confusion. I don’t ever remember hearing about musicians or artists who made a living doing what they loved. We had lots of nice nurses and teachers who came and spoke, but that was pretty much it.
A couple of years ago I was asked to speak at a career day for a local PEI high school and I was SO excited! “FINALLY, a chance to inspire youth! To show them how awesome and fulfilling a career in the arts can be!” I walked into the classroom with a full slide show and my guitar. I had a 20 minute speech…..and I lost them 2 minutes in. I was talking about my music, and all the places I have traveled and how I make my money, when some kid yelled out “CAN YOU PLAY WAGON WHEEL?!”…. There it was. My one chance to inspire youth about the arts and I blew it.
After the class had rolled out, and after the teacher had apologized for the unenthusiastic reaction from the kids, a young punk-rocker chick was still sitting at the back of the class. She was wearing Chuck Taylors, a band tee and she had a pink streak in her hair. She walked up to me and told me how much she loved my music and my talk and how she liked to sing. We chatted for a bit, I gave her some pointers, a CD and hugged her goodbye. I turned around to see the teacher behind me looking totally shocked. “She has never said one word in this class….ever, you must have really got through to her! She’s been passed from school to school, nobody can get through to her”.
Walking away from the high school with my complimentary mug, school pen in hand and a smile from ear to ear, I felt like I had really made a difference. It reminds me of a story I heard a few years ago.
A young girl was walking along the beach when she came upon hundreds of starfish who had washed up upon the shore. Frantically, she started going about one by one and throwing them back into the ocean. A man came along and saw this and laughed “What are you doing!” he said ” There are hundreds of starfish on the beach, you’ll never make a difference!”. The young girl turned to the man, smiled and threw another star fish as far into the ocean as she could throw
“Well, It made a difference to that one”.