Khalid Hussain (khalid_hussain) wrote,
Khalid Hussain

Student recital

When I checked my email yesterday morning, I saw that I had an email from a high school student who took my freshman courses through the university co-op program. He wrote that he was sorry for the last-minute notice, but he was giving his senior cello recital at a church near the campus that evening and would appreciate it very much if I would come.

Given the awful evaluations I got from some of the college students, I wondered, "If I'm such an ogre, why is it that I haven't managed to intimidate the high school students?" Partly in order to spite the negativity of the lazy and ungrateful college students in my course, I arranged my schedule so as to be able to attend the recital.

When I arrived at the church I saw and greeted the young cellist and his mother. After I was seated, his mother came over and thanked me for allowing the student to take my courses. She proudly announced where he would be attending college, and said that she was glad that he had had an opportunity to do preparatory work with me. This student's sister, who is also a musician, had likewise taken my courses several years ago, and her mother quickly caught me up on her schooling since then.

Another high school student who took my courses, who is a guitarist in a black metal band, came over to say hi. He asked if I received the CD of his band's music, which I had ordered a couple of weeks previously. I told him that I did and that I had enjoyed it. He told me about the band's forthcoming summer tour and we discussed a couple of concert dates that I might be able to attend.

During intermission I spoke to a music teacher at the same high school, who had actually been a student in my very first freshman class at this university. As with this semester's class, several students in that class had savaged me on evaluations. Well, this student survived, and he's doing fine. From pictures on FB, I recognized the young man with him as his boyfriend. When I was talking with this former student, I asked him discreetly, "Is this your ... husband?" He said, "Well, fiancé, actually: we just haven't managed to get married yet." I told him, "That's OK, take your time: it took my partner and me 25 years to finally get married." He introduced me, and we talked for a while. It was fun.

After the concert I spoke some more with a number of people, including the former student who is now a high school teacher. He said that he wanted to talk to me sometime about where he might want to go from here professionally.

As I thought back on this later, I asked myself, "Who else on the faculty of my department would have been able to mediate the various populations and topics that I had mediated at the recital: high school students, gay teachers and their partners, classical music, black metal."  The answer, of course: "Absolutely no one." While on the one hand it angers me that I am so underappreciated and largely unrecognized in my department, I must ultimately conclude that I simply see and tune into things to which the others in my environment are blind and insensitive. This makes me think of Peter Wilberg's notion of occult elites, who through their embodied presence exert subtle influence on their environment while relinquishing any attempts to gauge the effects of their efforts.

Rather than be brought down by people who are mediocre and who are unwilling to do what they need to do in order to improve their situation, it is important to actively recognize those people who are doing positive things and who will therefore reflect positively on one's own efforts. I really hadn't expected the kind of recognition I received at the recital: I was practically a guest of honor. On the other hand, I enjoyed having the opportunity to give proper recognition to a very talented student and to his family, as well as to catch up with a former student and now fellow teacher.

Om Kreem Kalyai Namaha,


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