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BS: They said I couldn't

Jerry Rasmussen 04 Apr 04 - 02:23 PM
Metchosin 04 Apr 04 - 03:13 PM
flattop 04 Apr 04 - 03:27 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 04 Apr 04 - 03:31 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 04 Apr 04 - 03:33 PM
Rapparee 04 Apr 04 - 03:43 PM
Megan L 04 Apr 04 - 04:30 PM
GUEST,Martin Gibson 04 Apr 04 - 04:48 PM
jacqui.c 04 Apr 04 - 05:41 PM
Uncle_DaveO 04 Apr 04 - 05:46 PM
Once Famous 04 Apr 04 - 05:51 PM
GUEST 04 Apr 04 - 05:58 PM
Once Famous 04 Apr 04 - 06:06 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 04 Apr 04 - 06:21 PM
Rapparee 04 Apr 04 - 07:06 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 04 Apr 04 - 07:15 PM
Don Firth 04 Apr 04 - 07:38 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 04 Apr 04 - 10:19 PM
Rapparee 04 Apr 04 - 10:36 PM
Thomas the Rhymer 04 Apr 04 - 10:52 PM
GUEST,An Ant 04 Apr 04 - 11:11 PM
GUEST,A Ram 04 Apr 04 - 11:14 PM
weerover 05 Apr 04 - 01:38 AM
Ellenpoly 05 Apr 04 - 04:02 AM
jacqui.c 05 Apr 04 - 04:17 AM
Teribus 05 Apr 04 - 04:21 AM
Metchosin 05 Apr 04 - 07:52 AM
Shanghaiceltic 05 Apr 04 - 08:38 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 05 Apr 04 - 10:35 AM
Don Firth 05 Apr 04 - 04:19 PM
Deckman 05 Apr 04 - 04:53 PM
Once Famous 05 Apr 04 - 05:36 PM
Deckman 05 Apr 04 - 05:56 PM
Thomas the Rhymer 05 Apr 04 - 05:59 PM
Midchuck 05 Apr 04 - 06:31 PM
Don Firth 05 Apr 04 - 08:16 PM
GUEST,leeneia 05 Apr 04 - 09:27 PM
Amos 05 Apr 04 - 10:04 PM
GUEST,guest, ranger1 06 Apr 04 - 12:38 AM
Metchosin 06 Apr 04 - 12:45 AM
dianavan 06 Apr 04 - 02:44 AM
George Papavgeris 06 Apr 04 - 03:32 AM
dianavan 06 Apr 04 - 03:38 AM
Ellenpoly 06 Apr 04 - 04:03 AM
jacqui.c 06 Apr 04 - 06:01 AM
kendall 06 Apr 04 - 07:23 AM
freda underhill 06 Apr 04 - 09:14 AM
Deckman 06 Apr 04 - 09:47 AM
freda underhill 06 Apr 04 - 09:57 AM
Deckman 06 Apr 04 - 10:08 AM
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Subject: BS: They said I couldn't
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 04 Apr 04 - 02:23 PM

Back when I was in college, I was having a lot of trouble keeping my head above water. I was getting terrible grades and ended up flunking out at the end of my sophomore year. Worse yet, I didn't believe that I was "college material." No one in my family went to college, and I thought that I'd end up working at the Fisher Body plant in my hometown, like most of my other friends from high school.
When I was allowed back in school on probation, I took a Geology course and really liked it, so I went to talk with my professor. I told him I wanted to major in Geology, and go on to graduate school.
At that point, I didn't even have a C average, and I needed a B average to get into graduate school. The professor just laughed when I told him, and said "Rasmussen, you haven't got the chance of a snowball in Hell of getting into graduate school." I just stared at him, gritted my teeth and said,"not only will I get into graduate school, but you're going to be my major professor." I didn't appreciate being told that I couldn't do it. Like everyone else, I'd been told off and on all of my life that I couldn't do one thing or another. Sometimes it turned out that I couldn't. But many times, being told I couldn't just made me more determined to prove that I could, and I DID! That makes me wonder how many lives are short-circuited because someone told them that they couldn't do something.

Maybe someone is telling you right now that you can't do something that you want to do... that you're stupid to even try. I know that everyone in here has been told that they couldn't do something that they ended doing, and doing well.

Tell me about it.

By the way, I got straight A's my last two years of undergraduate school and got into graduate school on a scholarship. Stuff you're "no chance!"

Jerry


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: Metchosin
Date: 04 Apr 04 - 03:13 PM

I failed typing when I was in high school. Nobody ever failed typing back then, especially females. The typing teacher commented, "You're not very good with your hands, are you!", while watching me get my fingers stuck between the keys during a typing test.

I always thought of the comment and thought "Screw you!" when a few years later, I regularly did what was called "pereneal sections" of nematodes under a microscope. The procedure involved removing the nematode's vulva and anus with a scalpel and cleaning the little section cuticle to remove eggs and extraneous debris with a "needle" made made from one of my eyebrows and then processing and mounting the "pereneal sections" on slides.

It did require a considerable amount of manual dexterity and I got very good at it. Most nematodes are very, very tiny, hardly visible to the naked eye and their naughty bits are even smaller.

A lot of the stuff I've done in my life and mastered was because someone told me I couldn't do it.

Unfortunately, typing is one area where I still fail misereably, although at least with a keyboard on a computer, there's no room to jam my fingers between the keys.


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: flattop
Date: 04 Apr 04 - 03:27 PM

Now that you two are doing these things in spite of other peoples' negativity, do you enjoy them. Nematode's anuses don't sound exciting to me, quite the opposite. I've never seen them in a glossy magazine but I can't imagine them being attractive.


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 04 Apr 04 - 03:31 PM

My son Gideon was told by his first grade teacher that he'd never be able to write legibly, and he might as well accept it and learn to type. She gave us the same advice at a parent-teacher conference. By the time he was in fifth grade, his handwriting was much better than his first grade teacher's and he proved to be particularly talented at tasks that required fine motor skills like you, Metchosin.

I think "Screw you!" is a variant of "Stuff it!.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 04 Apr 04 - 03:33 PM

flattop: Yes, I thoroughly enjoyed getting my enducation and teaching in college. My education led me on to become Director of a large Museum and Nature Center, where I also ran a folk concert series for 27 years.

I guess you could safely say that I enjoyed it.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: Rapparee
Date: 04 Apr 04 - 03:43 PM

I was, in high school, a member of the "Zero Club." This named by one of the teachers, who felt that the member would never amount to more than a zero in life.

Let's see: I have one MS degree and more than enough education for a second. Another member (now deceased) had a master's in English lit. Another holds a pretty responsible job in Silicon Valley. Yet another worked for the Metropolitan Opera prior to his acceptance into medical school -- unfortunately, he died just before he was to have started.

Then there's my niece Elizabeth: she's graduating next month with a degree in a combined Biology/Chemistry program and has been offered a fellowship at the U. of Iowa (tuition and fees plus $21,000/year) -- she was told by her high school vocational counselor that if she shouldn't feel badly if she didn't make it through her first year of college, because "lots of girls don't." Her sister -- a college sophomore with a grade point average of 4.0 -- was told by the same man that she "probably wasn't smart enough" for college work.

In my undergrad days I have a lousy, really lousy, semester. The academic dean told me I was on academic probation and if I didn't do a little better I'd be out at the end of the next semester. I told him I'd be in the Honors Program at the end of the next semester. To his GREAT surprise, I was.

Don't tell people that they can't do something. It's liable to piss them off enough for them to far outstrip you.


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: Megan L
Date: 04 Apr 04 - 04:30 PM

Form many years I taught Youth Trainees first aid. I used to get really wild when the head of the training centre called them "no hopers" I always told them everyone is good at something sometime you just got to spend time trying to find what it is. All some of these young people needed was someone to believe in them enough to give them the confidence to try.


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 04 Apr 04 - 04:48 PM

Oh this is all so inspirational.


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: jacqui.c
Date: 04 Apr 04 - 05:41 PM

Martin - I agree, this IS inspirational. Too many people try to discourage others for one reason or another. I've been told a number of times in my life that I couldn't do something and, invariably I've managed to do it. Even my parents were discouraging. Now, I'll at least try to succeed at something new rather than take someone else's opinion and give up.

How many people in this world have been put off the things they want to do due to the pessimistic atitude of others? Too many I'll bet. Maybe we should be saying get stuffed a bit more often - I know that, as my kids were growing up I tried to give them confidence in their own abilities and they've turned out well. Now they have children who will be given the same message and will hopefully grow up with the same confidence.


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 04 Apr 04 - 05:46 PM

The "you don't have a hope" message is not that serious--
EXCEPT when you are the one telling it to yourself.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: Once Famous
Date: 04 Apr 04 - 05:51 PM

That's fine for you if it's inspirational.

Really, if that's what you surf the web for, that's your thing.

I just have somewhat of a hard time grasping getting my inspiration or therapy if needed from a web forum.

Have you considered ever talking to professionals or religious leaders in a real life situation if you feel this need? Do you have the time?


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Apr 04 - 05:58 PM

Approx. 10 years ago I was unable to get into Officer Candidate School (OCS) (for those that are not from a military background it is a way of progressing from the enlisted ranks to the officer's corps) because a commander decided I was not "officer material". He was proud of the fact that he had only sent three people to OCS in his entire career. This came after several commands had recommended that I apply. How is it that one asshole can upset the whole applecart? Anyway, he had his way in the end because before he left the command I was at I went over the age limit for OCS.

I am now in a position to teach and mold people, I may not think they have the right stuff but at least I give them a chance to prove me wrong. Then I congratulate them! Don't get in the way!


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: Once Famous
Date: 04 Apr 04 - 06:06 PM

For those of you who get stagefright and can't pee at a rwo of urinals, you can do it!

I know you can! Keep trying!


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 04 Apr 04 - 06:21 PM

You're right, Uncle DaveO: A lot of times doors stay closed in our lives because we don't believe we can do something. Too often, that's a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: Rapparee
Date: 04 Apr 04 - 07:06 PM

Maybe 20 years ago now, I went to an ophthamologist who was amazed at the difference between the lenses of my glasses. Seems I had amblyopia when I was young, before they realized how simple it was to cure, and so my left eye was very, very much weaker than my right.

He said that he could give me a prescription similar to what I had, one which brought the left eye up to where it would work with the right and wouldn't cause problems with my brain integrating the images. Or...he could give me a prescription that would bring my vision as close to 20/20 as possible, but I might have significant trouble with image integration.

I said, Hell, let's try it. We did.

I had a couple of days of odd things, but my vision (with glasses) is damned near 20/20. Every ophthamologist since has been amazed at my vision correction and the lack of problems I've had.

Now I keep wanting to try to cure the old amblyopia, but I keep getting told that I'm way, way, too old.

Anyway, try it. All you can do is fail. Then try it again, because you might win the second time.


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 04 Apr 04 - 07:15 PM

That's real good to read, Rapaire. There are enough instances of wrong diagnoses/inexplicable healings in medical records to pave a road from here to the moon.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: Don Firth
Date: 04 Apr 04 - 07:38 PM

A couple of things. One of them I wrote up over HERE. Having just reread some of it, it occurred to me that sometimes it is oneself who puts on the limitations and it takes someone else to give you a good swift kick in the butt. But there are other times when you know what you want to do and you can do it, but it requires making an end-run around the idiots of the world.

In 1955 and 56, I spent close to a year and a half in a hospital in Denver. I wasn't sick; I was undergoing physical therapy and some other treatments to alleviate the aftereffects of having polio when I was two. When I wasn't being exercised or massaged or hydrotherapized, there wasn't all that much to do, so fortunately I'd brought my guitar with me, along with a stack of classic guitar instruction manuals and song books. I spent most of my spare time practicing and learning songs, and I also had a chance to entertain a bit around the hospital. I loved doing it and people seemed to love having me do it. Ultimately, I decided that I wanted to make a career of folk singing, like Burl Ives or Richard Dyer-Bennet. This was before the onset of the Great Folk Scare, so (oxymoron alert!) "professional folk singers" were not yet the drug on the market that they became a few years later. I was aware that my knowledge of music was pretty minimal, and if I wanted to be a professional musician, especially a concert performer, I had better learn something about the field I wanted to enter. I decided that when I returned to Seattle, I would enroll in the University of Washington School of Music and learn music theory, harmony, music literature, the whole bundle.

Conceive my frustration, disgust, and dismay when I ran into a brick wall when I tried to enroll. I had a voice teacher that I was happy with and since the U. W. School of Music didn't require you to take private lessons at the U, that should be okay. And I also had an excellent classic guitar teacher, plus Walt Robertson and a couple of other people to keep me up on folk guitar techniques, so I was okay in that department. That wasn't the problem.

When I was filling out the form, one of the questions had to do with which course of study I wanted to follow:   did I want to major in music education (become a music teacher in the public schools, or a music teacher in general), or did I wish to major in performance. I checked "Performance." The next question had to do with "performing on what?" If I said "voice," it would not be required, but I would be under pressure to take lessons from one of the staff teachers, so I wrote in "classic guitar." When the woman behind the counter looked at it, one would have thought that I had written down "tissue paper and comb."

"But we don't have that," she said. I allowed as how I knew they didn't have any classic guitar teachers on the staff (incidentally, now, almost fifty years later, they do—an excellent department under Steven Novacek), but since I was taking lessons on the outside, that would be no problem. What I wanted was to learn music theory, etc. "No, you don't understand," she said. "We don't recognize the guitar as a serious field of study." I pointed out that Andrés Segovia had played a concert at Meany Hall on campus not more than six months before. We beat that one around for several minutes while we both got a bit hot under the collar, but since she had The Power, she folded up my application neatly and dropped it into the waste basket. End of discussion!

Since I was in my mid-twenties at the time, I didn't generally run to my mother with my problems anymore, but since she was especially interested in my musical ambitions (she was a fan of Richard Dyer-Bennet and had met him once), I told her what had occurred when I tried to enroll. Steam started pouring out of her ears, and when that happens, lookout!! She had connections I didn't even know about. She told a friend of hers whom she knew was acquainted with a music professor at the U. of W. My mother's friend, in turn, told the professor what had happened. The professor said that he wanted to meet me.

My mom and I went to her friend's house one afternoon where I met the music professor. It turned out that it was John Verrall who, at the time, was a composer in residence, and packed a fair amount of clout in the School of Music. We talked, and I played and sang some. He knew little about the guitar, but was intrigued. He thought it would be an interesting instrument to compose for. And he was particularly fond of folk songs. "Outwardly simple and naïve," he said, "but with examination, far more subtle and complex than they first appear." He asked me my ambitions, and we discussed the matter for awhile. Finally, he said, "It was ridiculous to have refused your application. You would be a real asset to have as a student. I'll be in touch."

About a week later, he phoned and told me that he had arranged an audition for me with Dr. Stanley Chappell, the head of the department. As a result of this, I wound up being the first "folk singer" or "classic guitarist" or "singer-guitarist" admitted to the U. of W. School of Music. It wasn't long after this that I started doing a television series entitled "Ballads and Books" on the local educational channel. Lots of singing jobs came as a result of that, and since one thing leads to another, I was off and running.

The first year at the U. of W. School of Music was fine. But during my second year, I started getting a load of crap from a couple of faculty members and a stuffy student or two: "When are you going to stop messing around with those cowboy songs and settle down to something serious?" [I am reminded that after concretizing and recording for well over thirty years, after a concert, someone said to Jean Redpath, "You have such a lovely voice. Have you ever thought of doing something with it?"] This was why I dropped out of the U. of W. School of Music and a few years later enrolled in the Cornish College of the Arts here in Seattle. Smaller classes, individual attention, excellent instruction; most of the faculty were working musicians. When I first approached Cornish about going there, Lockrem Johnson the head of the music department said, "No problem." They already had four classic guitarists as students there—applications rejected by the U. of W. "Happy to have them," he said. "We don't care if you want to play tissue paper and comb" [he actually said that!] "as long as you are serious about what you're doing."

If you really want to do something, sometimes you just have to be bull-headed about it. "Too stupid to quit."

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 04 Apr 04 - 10:19 PM

I'm glad you didn't Don. When you have a gift, you have to use it.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: Rapparee
Date: 04 Apr 04 - 10:36 PM

At the risk of thread drift...

Don't ever get mothers pissed off. Ever. Evereverever, amen.


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 04 Apr 04 - 10:52 PM

Great thread!

My story about Cornish is a little different, Don. It is an excellent example of discouragement, actually... When I interviewed with the head of the music dept. a couple of decades after your successes Don, I spoke my intentions clearly. I said that it was very important to me to persue vigorous music study and training, but that I was dead set on not learning to read or write music. His answer was... "why, are you better than everybody else?" With that answer, I just looked at him for a moment... and answered... "no... I guess I'm just approaching it differently". The conversation that continued was polite, but it was definitely on the wain...

The long silence that followed his original remark was the wave I surfed out his office door on... As I was leaving I turned and said ..."Sorry to bother you"...

And that was that. And my enjoyment of music has nothing to do with his opinions...
ttr


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: GUEST,An Ant
Date: 04 Apr 04 - 11:11 PM

I remember the time someone told me I couldn't lift a rubber-tree plant. By God! I showed them!


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: GUEST,A Ram
Date: 04 Apr 04 - 11:14 PM

You tell 'em about it, Ant! That's probably the same guy that told me I couldn't punch a hole in a dam. Hah! There ain't a damned dam been built I can't punch a hole in!


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: weerover
Date: 05 Apr 04 - 01:38 AM

Last week I met a delightful woman who left school with no educational qualifications. She apparently came from an area (and a family) where expectations were pretty low. When she was in her 30s high schools in the area started allowing adults to study with the kids and she went along and took some classes. Cutting a long story (much of which I don't know anyway) short, sho wrote a novel which not only got published but won a major literary award and she's now teaching creative writing at university.

wr.


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: Ellenpoly
Date: 05 Apr 04 - 04:02 AM

I actually took this idea of negative encouragement to the next level when I was asked to speak to kids at several schools on Professional's Day. I was, I'm sure, supposed to go in there and wax lyrical about the acting profession, and instead, I told them all the things that made it one of the most frustrating, difficult, and unrewarding careers imaginable if one doesn't possess the following-Luck, Connections, and Talent-and in that order.I told them that only 1 percent of the people in the profession can actually make a living at it, and that they'd better get used to the word "no" coming their way with relentless frequency. I told them it was hard work, and often controlled by people who were ego-driven rather than creative minds...I told them it was easier and made more sense to consider acting on an amateur level with their local community theatre, and get a degree in something that would assure them financial security all their lives.

I went on in this fashion for the entire talk, and finally, as I watched their faces...some becoming disillusioned, some becoming confused, and some growing in determination-I ended by saying "And if after all of this information, you STILL know in you heart that you want to be an actor/actress because you HAVE to be...then you just MIGHT be the one person in this room to make it!

I think it had the desired effect...xx..e


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: jacqui.c
Date: 05 Apr 04 - 04:17 AM

Good one E - but that's just being realistic, not putting an individual down on a personal basis.

Previous threads are right about lack of self belief, but that has usually been engendered by negative comments from others, probably in early life.


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: Teribus
Date: 05 Apr 04 - 04:21 AM

Best story like those above that I've heard for a long time concerns one Kjell Inge Rokke, a Norwegian, whose teacher advised him that he should really concentrate on getting his driving licence, as all he would ever be good for, or achieve in life would be to earn his living as a taxi driver - Kjell Inge Rokke, I think is now either second, or third richest man in Norway. I would have loved to seen that teacher interviewed.


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: Metchosin
Date: 05 Apr 04 - 07:52 AM

Wow! I didn't know you could earn that much money in tips as a cabbie.

Flattop, you'd be surprised what interesting things you can determine from the patterns on a worm's bum. Some of them look like little smiling monkey faces, but I think only another worm would find them sexually gratifying. Hardcore Nematode Porn


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: Shanghaiceltic
Date: 05 Apr 04 - 08:38 AM

A guy I knew in submarines joined as a basic marine engineering mechanic, a 'stoker' probably the lowest of the low you can get as far as the RN is concerned. He managed to get into the RN on the basis of the RN entrance exam. Everyone thought he was a bit thick but he not only had a photographic memory but also the ability to apply what he saw.

He quickly rose from the basic level, through his Leading Hands rate to Petty Officer. He then managed to get the basic two O Levels needed to apply for SD, a commission. He did that and later got his degree, he nows holds the rank of a Commander (E).

Given the right impetus and people can do anything.

Maybe even Martin Gibson will be pleasant one day!


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 05 Apr 04 - 10:35 AM

One the most admired, respected and enjoyed folk singers in America, who everyone would know if I mentioned his name was told by the choir Director when he was a kid that he should just mouth the words, because he would never be able to sing. No one would recognize the name of the choir Director.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: Don Firth
Date: 05 Apr 04 - 04:19 PM

My apologies for thread drift, but I just gotta stick this in.

I don't know who you ran into at Cornish, Thomas, but if it was a couple of decades after I was there, it couldn't have been Lockrem Johnson. He left Cornish in 1969.

But I'm not sure what he would have said to you. Reading and writing music is pretty essential to any kind of institutional study of music. Much class instruction in music theory involves the teacher writing notes on the blackboard (in music department classrooms, staff lines are drawn permanently on the blackboards—painted on) and the students taking "notes" (literally) on manuscript paper. Assignments often involve writing chords, chord inversions, and chord progressions with smooth movement from note to note within the chord changes (not easy to do), or the teacher giving you a melody line and leaving you to fill in chords (there are no "right" chords, there are only chords that "work") or write a countermelody to it, or both. The more advanced the class, the more complex the music becomes. Other instruction involves going through, say, the score of a Beethoven string quartet, determining what Ludwig did, and trying to figure out why he did it that way (he "breaks the rules" a lot, but he does it for good reasons). For a musician in any field of music, this kind of study makes all kinds of light bulbs turn on. The point is not to teach you a whole bunch of rules you have to obey, it's to show you a whole range of possibilities that you probably wouldn't think of on your own. I can't imagine a music school anywhere that wouldn't consider being able to read music just as essential as a college English department would consider the ability to read essential to studying literature and/or learning to write short stories, novels, or poetry (as in rhyming).

This is not to say that one can't be a top-rate musician if one can't read music. One of the best (and best known) operatic basses of all time and a mainstay of the opera world some years back, Ezio Pinza (probably most famous for playing Emile de Becque in the stage production of "South Pacific"—Some Enchanted Evening), couldn't read music. It didn't inhibit his singing at all. Except that instead of being able to learn an operatic role or a popular song by picking up a score, reading it, and memorizing it, he had to be drilled by a voice coach until he had it memorized. That's doing it the hard way. Not to mention, the expensive way. The score to Mozart's Don Giovanni (one of the roles he was most famous for) costs a few bucks, but a voice coach charges by the hour, and it would take a whole lot of hours to learn the lead role by rote as he had to do. One is tempted to ask, "Why not learn to read music?" but I personally couldn't come up with a good answer for that. Perhaps you can. I'd honestly like to hear a good rationale for this.

Many jazz musicians don't work from written music at all, and I'll venture to say that the vast majority don't spend much time looking at scores. Being mainly improvisational, it just isn't that essential. But—most of the best jazz musicians do read music. For example, trumpet player Wynton Marsalis studied at Juilliard, and he can switch back and forth between jazz and classic with no problems at all—great at both. His thorough knowledge of music makes him highly versatile and good at whatever kind of music he turns his hand to.

I know that there are a fair number (probably more than any other field of music) of folk oriented musicians who not only avoid learning to read music, but are downright hostile to the idea. I think this comes from the feeling that if they learn to read music or if they learn anything about music theory, this will somehow force a lot of rules on them and limit what they can do, or inhibit their freedom of spirit, or otherwise somehow corrupt their purity as folk musicians. Nope. Doesn't work that way.

Granted, Doc Watson can't read music. Being blind, it isn't something he had much choice about. But he knows one helluva lot about music theory. In a workshop at the 1964 Berkeley Folk Festival, someone asked him how he can play fiddle tunes on the guitar so fast and clean. His response? "I practice scales at least a half-hour a day, every day." Looks of shock and horror!! Someone else asked him about a picking pattern he used on a particular song. As he tried to explain it, he said, "Well, it's a sort of arpeggio. 'Course," he added with a wry grin, "I'm not supposed to know words like that."

I've had guitar students that didn't want to learn to read music. I try to talk them into it, but if they're adamant, I teach them anyway, using chord diagrams and showing them stuff rather than using written music. But it's a whole lot more difficult to get ideas across. And here are a couple of biggies: they deny themselves the possibility of being able to learn songs from song books; and are often too afraid they're going to make some kind of horrible musical mistake to really try to experiment very much. So much for freedom of expression. Almost every question I have run into on Mudcat having to do with chords, scales, modes and such are answered in the first few chapters of a good text on music theory, but to understand it, you kinda have to be able to read the examples—in music notation.

Good musicians I have known who don't read music are good not because of their inability to read music, but in spite of it. And that includes folk musicians. Other than the sort of irrational fear that some folk musicians have of being "tainted," I can't really grasp the idea of not wanting to learn to read music.

But—whatever works for you. That's what matters. But I really would like to hear a good rationale for not being able to read music.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: Deckman
Date: 05 Apr 04 - 04:53 PM

I'll throw in one example from my own life here. Some 15 or so years ago, I developed a potentially serious growth on the top of my foot. I had to search for a doctor that would take it on and I finally found one just out of med school. He was very cautious in his approach. After a lengthy surgery, he warned me that my backpacking and hiking days were most likely over. That just kinda ticked me off!

I started walking, moved onto easy jogging, and then serious running and conditioning. Six months later, I climbed Mt. Rainier. I ran into this same doctor this last Winter and reminded him of our mutual experience. He was delighted to remember me and said that he almost refused to do the surgery as it was risky. After I told him of my recovery, he gave me a HUG!!!! (He said that I made his day) CHEERS, Bob


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: Once Famous
Date: 05 Apr 04 - 05:36 PM

This part of the Jerry inspirational hour has been brought to you by Preparation H.

Preparation H. The product that will help you with your hemmorroids.

If you want it to!

but you got to believe.

Remember, apply liberally and often. Putting your mind to it will get you that good feeling fast.


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: Deckman
Date: 05 Apr 04 - 05:56 PM

I've got a really good suggestion as to where you could put your tube of "Prep H". Bob


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 05 Apr 04 - 05:59 PM

Don... Many musicians don't read music. I've been told that the Beatles didn't read music. I have many reasons, but because I'm a bastet case at home with the flu today, I will only be able to present a few...

My 'gift' if you call it that, is innovation. And I do seem to be able to perform well under certain circumstances... I have no desire to teach music, and believe deeply in Plato's distrust of the 'Sophists'. For me, music is a personal thing,... that I share with others, and an emotional expression, and a chance to communocate poetic metaphor.

I do not believe that taking shortcuts will make me better at these things, and I view music notation in the general sense, as a shortcut. If I want to 'take up' a new genera... I steep myself in it, and eventually start to pick it up by ear.

Music is 'of the ears, and of the soul'... and the music I like best is played of the soul... and to be quite honest with you, Don... I don't see any particular connection between literacy in music notation, and musical excellence. This is not to discount symphonic arrangement and production, which I love... but is more effectively seen as and alternative motivational guidence system...

I play by ear mainly because I find that for me, the dearly earned, is far more authentic (and therefore more meaningful) than immediate noteworthiness... which, I might add, IMHO is responsible for the 'low soul' content of much in today's music.

Also, it makes no sense to me how an 'oral tradition' could be benefitted in any way by music notation... new thread anyone?

Flu bound and sickly, ttr


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: Midchuck
Date: 05 Apr 04 - 06:31 PM

From the immortal Benny Hill -

To make Martin Gibson feel better:

They said that it could not be done,
He said "Just let me try."
They said, "Other men have tried and failed,"
He answered, "But not I."
They said, "It is impossible,"
He said, "There's no such word."
He closed his mind, he closed his heart...
To everything he heard.

He said, "Within the heart of man,
There is a tiny seed.
It grows until it blossoms,
It's called the will to succeed.
Its roots are strength, its stem is hope,
Its petals inspiration,
Its thorns protect its strong green leaves,
With grim determination.

"Its stamens are its skills
Which help to shape each plan,
For there's nothing in the universe
Beyond the scope of man."
They thought that it could not be done,
Some even said they knew it,
But he faced up to what could not be done...
And he couldn't bloody do it!


Peter


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: Don Firth
Date: 05 Apr 04 - 08:16 PM

Thomas, that's the best answer I've heard, and believe it or not, it does make sense to me.

When you say, "I don't see any particular connection between literacy in music notation, and musical excellence," I definitely agree there. Hanging around music schools some, I've met more than a couple of people who knew all there was to know about notes, but didn't seem to know a damned thing about music!

Music notation is, at best, a tool, a way to literally "take a look" at a piece of music and examine the way it's put together. It is a visual representation of the music, but it's certainly not the music itself. The true test is "how does it sound?" The ears, not the eyes. If you can achieve what you want to achieve without using that tool, then more power to you.

But I think this works only with individuals and small groups, e.g., bluegrass, or jazz combos. It's easy enough for a couple of guys to work out a decent arrangement without written music. Bob (Deckman) and I didn't write our "arrangements" out or try to work them out on paper, we just did them by ear, by guess, and "by gosh, it works!" However, I can't imagine trying to work out anything much larger, consisting of, say, six, seven, eight, or more people on up, without written music. A bunch of performers in a multi-performer concert or hootenanny all getting together at the end and singing This Land is Your Land as a "grand finale" is okay, but sometimes not everybody's all playing the same chords or singing the same verses (I've been there. I know!). Pretty messy.

Again, this doesn't mean that it can't be done. Example (since you mentioned The Beatles), Paul McCartney doesn't read music, but he did compose his Liverpool Oratorio. It was recorded by some pretty pricy talent: Kiri Te Kanawa, Sally Burgess, Jerry Hadley, and Willard White, along with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir. The composition of the work consisted of McCartney standing by Paul Davis (who could read and write music), sitting at the piano with a pencil and a stack of manuscript paper within easy reach. McCartney would explain what he wanted, Davis would try it on the piano, McCartney would say, "No, that's not quite it. Try—" and Davis would try it again. When McCartney said "That's it!" Davis would write it down. Long and laborious. But in the end, out came the Liverpool Oratorio. I've heard it, and although I can't quite say that it's up there with the Verdi Requiem, it is an interesting and ambitious piece of music.

As far as music notation being of benefit to the oral tradition, it does help disseminate the songs. I've learned a lot of songs from song books. But if you're not already acquainted with the oral tradition, the notation doesn't really tell you how the song should be sung. If you are, though, song books are an invaluable resource. Another example where music notation falls short: trying to learn flamenco guitar. You just can't learn it from written music. You have to have someone show you. But—once someone shows you how to play an allegrias, a soleares, or a granadinas, you can learn new variations and falsetas from written music. You have to have the rhythms and the basic sounds in you ear before the written music makes any kind of sense.

I guess it depends a lot on what you want to do. And like I say, it's a handy tool.

Hunker down, stay warm, rest easy, and get well soon.

Regards,

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 05 Apr 04 - 09:27 PM

"I've been told that the Beatles didn't read music."

They couldn't sing, either.


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: Amos
Date: 05 Apr 04 - 10:04 PM

Peter:

LOL!!! Sometimes reality is the funniest possible answer!! :>)

A


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: GUEST,guest, ranger1
Date: 06 Apr 04 - 12:38 AM

I once asked an English teacher in high school, who I respected greatly, for a college recommendation. I worked hard in his class, paid attention and wrote some very good papers. I got a letter that, more or less, told the school I was applying to not to accept me. I was "a pleasant student who lacks the sharp edge" among other things. I was extremely discouraged and more or less said to hell with school for the rest of high school and then took some time off before I went to college, where I decided I would only take the barest number of English classes I had to, as I was obviously no good at it. At the small college I eventually went to, I had an English professor who was an absolute gem. He told me that I had great potential, even when my work was mediocre. To make a long story short, I got an A from a professor who was known for his tough grading policies and then went on to minor in midieval lit, not to mention making dean's list all four years, and doing extremely well in classes with notoriously tough professors. So there, Mr. Wallace! Take that!!!!!

I also went through a period when people kept asking me "when are you going to get a real job? You'll never make it working as a seasonal park ranger." My dad was the one who told me to stick with it, because it was something I loved and was good at. He told me I'd find a way to make it work. He also told me that if I quit he'd kick my a** from there to the Canadian border. He was right, I've found a way to make it work, and I'm starting my 18th season next Monday.


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: Metchosin
Date: 06 Apr 04 - 12:45 AM

And in the spirit of Benny Hill, Martin Gibson can't keep it in his case!*LOL*


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: dianavan
Date: 06 Apr 04 - 02:44 AM

There is nothing that beats grim determination.

I barely graduated from high school. A worked in an office and at retail sales. Got married, had a couple kids and ended up as head of household. I realized I had to get some training or education. I wasn't even sure I could pass the English entrance exam although, at age 36, I could enter as a mature student.

Nobody supported me. Not even my parents. I was encouraged to get a minimum wage job and concentrate my energy on child rearing. Everybody doubted if I would have the stamina. Some probably doubted my overall ability. Everyone thought it was a desperate decision.

I passed the English entrance exam. Since I had no idea of my overall ability, I decided to just give it my all and see if I could pass the first year. Imagine my surprize when I made the Dean's list! After that, I realized I didn't have to get A's and A+ and that I could actually become a B student without too much effort and still have time for my kids. Where there's a will, there's a way!


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 06 Apr 04 - 03:32 AM

Not really thread-creep, but a different view of all this: To prove someone wrong upon being told "you can't do xx" is a perfectly normal human reaction, and has more than once been used to the good.

In the early 1830s, the fledgling Greek country had just come out of a "war of liberation" from the Ottoman Empire, but was also near starvation, as the usual cereal crops had not been tended properly through the years of fighting. The first King of the Greeks, Otto, new about potatoes - unknown in Greece - and thought they could save the day. He brought over a shipload to introduce the vegetable, but no Greek was interested in this funny looking thing.

So, he stored all potatoes in a warehouse, posted a nominal guard outside (instructed to turn a blind eye) and brought out an edict the "nobody was to touch the potatoes because they were reserved for aristocracy".

That was it - the warehouse emptied overnight.


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: dianavan
Date: 06 Apr 04 - 03:38 AM

Martin - I noticed that mudcatters were welcoming you back. Why?

You seem to want to rain on everybody's parade. What's the point? If all you have to contribute is negativity, put downs and insults, why do you bother to post? Isn't it a bit like crashing the party. Its not as if its an attempt to stimulate conversation. Its either bad jokes or boorish comments.

After all the mudcatters have done to make you feel welcome, I can only deduce that you are a serious sociopath.


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: Ellenpoly
Date: 06 Apr 04 - 04:03 AM

Dianavan, in all tribes there is the inevitable outcast; someone who has to harry from the edges of the crowd in an effort to be heard and understood. They are necessary, for it makes the rest of us feel more secure in our own beliefs as being the better ones...Seriously, let Martin Gibson do his thing...he has to wake up every day and look at himself in the mirror. You, on the other hand, have the choice not to read his postings, and not to let him push your buttons. And I have a sneaking suspicion that on the meter of serious sociopaths, he is tamer than many...

El Greko-I enjoyed your story about the potatoes coming to Greece. While living on Syros, I did much the same thing with the very first case of avocados which had been sitting in the market unsaleble because they were so different looking and everyone would only look suspiciously askance at them from across the road. When I showed up and insisted I would buy them all, I was immediatly pushed out of the way by several Greeks who figured they'd be missing out on something special. The market guy was grateful, and promised he'd bring more in soon...he never did, and I missed out on getting the only case of avocadoes to come to our Island that decade..xx..e


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: jacqui.c
Date: 06 Apr 04 - 06:01 AM

Ellen - you're right about Martin. He does serve a useful purpose in that he makes us look at our own points of view and either adjust or confirm our thinking. When he starts getting unpleasant the best thing is, as with small children, to ignore the outburst as not being worthy of reply.


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: kendall
Date: 06 Apr 04 - 07:23 AM

I know the man well who Jerry is talking about, and what he said is true.


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: freda underhill
Date: 06 Apr 04 - 09:14 AM

I got a job in a sensitive govt area in 92. We had to go through strict security screening. Because i had changed my name, it was only after i won the position that ASIO (Oz'z internal spooks) discovered problems with my "background". I was told on more than one occasion, by some dribbling old coots that "someone like you should never have been employed here".

Consequently I worked extremely hard in that job (a very interesting and rewarding one) and was able to make a significant difference. I was pleased to stay the distance, and the thanks i got from many that i helped over the years in that postion, and from later bosses, more than made up for the cranky old grumblebums, some of whom are still souring the corridors with their raised eyebrows and stuffed shirts.


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: Deckman
Date: 06 Apr 04 - 09:47 AM

Hey Freda .... "GRUMBLEBUM!" What a neat word. Can I steal it! CHEERS, Bob


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: freda underhill
Date: 06 Apr 04 - 09:57 AM

its not my word, Bob, its a real word here is Oz (unless its one of our old family sayings thats stayed with me) I just checked my shorter macquarie dictionary and its not there - but you're most welcome to it!

in the absence of an authoritative definition i hereby offer:

grumblebum: boring old fart, cranky pants, miserable whinger...
sourpuss, miseryguts..

enjoy!

freda


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Subject: RE: BS: They said I couldn't
From: Deckman
Date: 06 Apr 04 - 10:08 AM

Thanks for the definitions ... I think I KNOW him! Bob


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