All Hail the Conquering Hero
Posted Thursday, February 17, 2005, 11:29 AM
Ever notice how things sneak up on you in weird and mysterious ways? Well, life has a wired way of blindsiding people. Weather it’s a disastrous change in life, or a sudden realization of something, Murphy’s Law dictates that things always happen when you least expect (especially bad things). I was delivered a bit of sobering news yesterday, as I was getting back from my morning walk with a good friend. My brother called me to say that our former band teacher from high school had passed away the previous night.
OK, I’ll just get it out in the open and admit that I was (probably still am) a band geek. In high school I was in two bands, jazz band and marching band, and my life centered on music. When I was not doing stuff for the school band and small groups, I was also in the church choir singing tenor. I had learned to sing tenor and play a multitude of brass instruments by the time I had graduated. When I attended college, I was on voice and instrumental scholarship for almost the whole time. Music was my life.
John Hicky, my high school band teacher, bares a lot of the responsibility for my appreciation of music, as well as my appreciation of different kinds of music. Band was a place and time where everyone was welcomed to come, and where everyone worked hard. Music was not something that was part of our checklist of things to make us look good on a college application. Music was something that we all had to take ownership of, we all had to feel, and that we all worked hard to master.
This is going to be really cheesy, but if you have ever seen the movie, “Mr. Holands’s Opus,” you can start to see what Mr. Hicky meant to those of us that sat under neither him. His life was dedicated to teaching, and to seeing us excel to the best of each person’s ability. When our band went places and scored first place, he was just as proud of us as when we placed last, as long as we gave our best. We were a family, and to some in the group he was the only good Male roll model in their lives.
I hang out with a lot of people who are in the Psychology field. So I’ve had a lot of my personal traits analyzed and looked over by people who are working on their degrees. When I look back to try to see where I developed a lot of the work ethic and personality I have now, I can draw a line right back to my experience under Mr. Hicky. He had this quote from Aristotle that hung above the black board that read, “You are what you perpetually do, therefore practicing with excellence will create excellence.” I’ve taken that with me ever since. That and, “Early is on time, on time is late, and late is very, very bad.” Things that I find myself quoting in casual conversation, end up being things that I can trace back to phrases and ideas that were drilled into me (literally) in marching band.
I guess that as I grow older, I tend to forget what it was like when I was in high school. Mr. Hicky was there for us when we were at our ropes end, when we made mistakes, and when we were triumphant. Through him I was able to see a good decent man that have very strong moral beliefs that resonated in everything he taught. In an age where teachers are afraid to lecture on moral standards for fear of prosecution, Mr. Hicky found a way to teach us morals and the lessons of life, without ever give a single lecture on the topic.
I hope that one day, I can be as effective as John Hicky was in his life. I know I’ll see him across the field, when it is my turn to embark on the adventure known as the after life.