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A Gloomy Time…A Time for Action
by Karen Garrett, R&S Chair, Women's Choruses, CA-ACDA
(reprinted by permission, CA ACDA's newsletter, "Cantate," Douglas Lynn, Editor)

by Franz von Schubert
You lovely art, in how many gloomy hours, When life's fierce orbit entangled me, Have you kindled my heart to warmer love.
Have you carried me away to a better world.
Often has a sigh, flown from your harp—
a sweet, holy chord from you—
unlocked for me the heaven of better times.
You lovely art, I thank you for this.
You lovely art, I thank you.

Oh, the heaven of better times—when none of our music programs were being cut and no grants frozen! I came across this beautiful text just yesterday as my advanced women's choir sang An die Musik by Schubert in summer vocal camp. It was like a whispered voice in my ear reminding me why I became a choral director and what I have to offer my students—perhaps, more importantly, what music has to offer them and what an important job I have, as a conduit, to help them access that lovely art.

It is a gloomy time. I had numerous conversations with fellow choral directors at the California ACDA Summer Conference at ECCO this summer about cut programs and lower numbers in their choirs as more and more academic requirements were pressed on our already stressed-out students. In my school district the elementary general music has been cut to balance the budget. My own grants from Sacramento were "frozen"
until further notice.

It would be so easy and understandable to give up and accept the lot I have been given. But I won't. Now is the time for action; to be sure that I recruit as many students as possible into my program and to fight for every penny to provide for them the experience they deserve.

In two years I will be at my district doors helping to reinstate general music at the elementary level.

I will do all this because we know a truth that has escaped many decision-makers above us—the musical art we can give to our students will kindle their heart to a warmer love—in a way that algebra cannot.

We are the torch carriers of a cure for life's fierce orbits that entangle us. We can help transport them, if even for a moment, to a better world. And for this, let us truly be thankful. ♦


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