Saturday, January 10, 2009

Why I Support Teenage Sax in the Hallways of Our Schools


My work day begins with my zero hour class at six-thirty a.m. This means my alarm blasts off at four-thirty. I hope you don’t mind me saying I’ve grown tired of getting up at four-thirty in the morning. Quite frankly, it ain’t natural rising before the sun. And my students, oh my God – just try to imagine trying to deliver a lesson to thirty-three functional zombies as their heads bob up and down or lay in puddles of drool. It’s not exactly a boost to the self esteem.

At the end of the last school year, I told my boss I’d rather cut off my toes than teach zero hour again. You can plainly see what kind of pull I have at my place of employment.

Waking up before the crack of dawn is nothing new to me. The truth is, I’ve been doing this for more than twenty years, zero hour or no zero hour. Early in my teaching career I learned the wee hours of the morning could be incredibly productive. There was no one around to distract me and if jacked myself up on enough coffee, I could get much more work done than in the afternoon.

Back when I was hosting educational TV programming, I was doing shows that went out to the East Coast, so I had to drag my keester out of bed at three a.m. My body never got used to it. There were mornings when I sailed right through red lights. Pretty scary. More than once I showed up to work sporting two different colored shoes. One morning in particular stands out in my memory. The alarm clock went off; I stumbled out of bed, showered, shaved, got myself dressed, climbed into my vehicle, and backed out of the driveway as the radio announcer said, “It’s ten o’clock on a rainy Thursday evening…” I must have screwed up the when I set the alarm. I didn’t have to get up for another five hours. The creepiest result of my three a.m. wakeup calls took place a couple of days after I picked my-father-in-law at Sky Harbor Airport. One minute I was tooling along to work and the next minute four skycaps were cautiously watching me as I sat outside the American Airlines terminal. I had no idea of how the hell I got there. The airport was a good five miles off of my route to work. I must have just zoned out.

Yeah, getting up before sunrise is no walk in the park. And it gets harder with each passing year. But a couple of days ago I experienced something extraordinary. It was five-thirty a.m. when I opened the door to the empty school corridor. I was welcomed with live saxophone music - saxophone music like I’ve never heard before. The acoustics of the empty hallway added something to the mojo of the moment. Following the music to the bottom of the stairway, it became apparent that notes were coming from upstairs. I thought about shouting some encouragement, but I think that would have taken away from the magic. No, I understood the correct move. Taking a seat on the bottom stair, I took a sip of my coffee and savored the moment.

Yesterday I was delighted to hear the sublime melody of Spanish guitar. At the top of the stairs I found an unfamiliar kid in a knit cap and frizzy red hair absolutely immersed in his instrument. Noticing me he stopped.

“You the same kid that was playing sax yesterday?”

“Yeah.”

“I just wanted to say thanks. Keep playing.”

He flashed a smile as big as Texas and went back to generating his magnificent Spanish guitar music. I walked down to the bottom of the stairs, had a seat and finished my cup of coffee. It wasn’t so bad being up at five-thirty in the morning. In fact it was magic – pure magic.

1 comment:

beFrank said...

Awesome post, Buzz. Keep on hammering those keys.