A Fiddler From Georgia: The Real Reason Arts Programs Need Saving…
For many years, the opportunity for our youth to have an education in music and performance arts has been under fire. Throughout the United States, parents and students alike have battled school administrators who have been all-too-happy to cut classes in the arts, especially those in music education, just to save a penny or two in budgets that devote thousands to concussion-prone contact sports. While the argument can be made that music education is simply no longer relevant in today’s cultural climate, where one can learn to play an instrument from YouTube videos and recording contracts are no longer lucrative, the idea that music education is no longer practical or useful to children is not only wrong, but potentially harmful.
Trust me, I experienced the dangers of having an unfit mind for music firsthand. Now, looking back as a survivor, I hope that my words are able to keep any aspiring musician from reaching that same tragic fate.
Do I have your attention now? Good.
Now, I’m no grizzled veteran of the craft; I’m still in the age range one might define as a “millennial.” To put this in perspective, I’m young enough to have never needed to peruse rest stops for random sex, but old enough to remember perusing chat rooms for random sex. But when I was younger, it seemed as if the only choices available in my school’s stripped-down music program was for guitarists or the school orchestra. Rather than tie myself down to playing the theme for Harry Potter or the latest Staind single for ungrateful parents, I decided to cut bait and take it upon myself to self-educate in a truly forgotten American art form.
That’s right. I’m a fiddler, and I’m proud of it.
Could I have gotten a formal education on “violin” through the school system? I don’t know; can you teach a sex education professor the intricacies of pornographic performances? Despite what “Big Porno” would want you to believe, you can’t just walk into a classroom and keep it hard (and/or wet) for hours while you explore someone’s body. So if they’re not gonna teach fiddlin’ how it’s supposed to be taught, then you gotta take matters in your own hands and get messy.
For years, I would become familiar with the fiddle in every way but the biblical, sawing on those strings as if my life depended on it. In my mind, I didn’t need book-learnin’ to make my fiddle cry like a baby that got into granpappy’s ghost pepper jar. Soon enough, I was getting the attention of the fiddlin’ community, and fiddleheads all around Georgia were quick to call me “the best there’s ever been.”
Little did I know, my supposedly Grade-A fiddlin’ got the attention of somebody ain’t nobody wanna mess with. Soon enough, a day would come where, while in one of my rippin’ fiddlin’ sessions, a tan gentleman with a widow’s peak and a velvet red suit came up to me, and, just as I suspected, it turned out to be The Devil. In a flash, this motherfucker jumped on a nearby hickory stump and he challenged me to a fiddlin’ contest right then and there.
Suddenly, as The Devil took out his fiddle, a band of Demons show up out of fucking nowhere, and suddenly, they kick out this nasty groove.
Now, I’m not a proud man, or a gambler for that matter, but as a self-taught fiddler, I had a chance to prove that I didn’t need any “formal training” to beat The Devil in a fiddlin’ match. Plus, he then took out a golden fiddle; while impractical, I could probably melt that sucker off, make a few bucks and take my fiddlin’ act on the road. So I told the actual Satan that I’d put my soul up for grabs, and I was going to make him regret the day he challenged the best fiddler in the Continental Southeast.
Suddenly, as The Devil took out his fiddle, a band of Demons show up out of fucking nowhere, and suddenly, they kick out this nasty groove. Now, I’m not going to lie: it was not half bad; it kind of sounded like what a fat redneck from the 1970s would assume passes for funk music. In fact, the fiddlin’ was good but, really, it’s the sound as a whole that was sort of impressive, despite maybe having bizarre racist undertones.
Then, as the hiss of his fiddle wound down, it was my time to shine. I started playing, and, I’ll be the first to admit that it wasn’t my finest hour. I had just learned to cover Coldplay’s Viva la Vida, and really wanted to give it a try, but it was just the wrong crowd. Maybe the crowd was racist, too? I don’t think Coldplay really has any racist songs in their library. Wait, is Yellow racist?
Anyways, I really shit the bed, and the Devil had my number. He took my soul, called me a son of a bitch, and then disappeared with his demon rock band, which was an unfair advantage anyways. Well, now I don’t have a soul and everyone in Georgia knows I’m not the best fiddler around anymore.
Please, if you’re a parent, or have a loved one interested in music as a profession: do not let your child get out-fiddled by The Devil.
But had I stayed in high school, enrolled in a fiddlin’ class, and been trained in classical fiddle, I would still have pride, my reputation, and any feeling of emotion when I accidentally see murder videos on LiveLeak. But if schools keep removing the funds needed to support music and arts education, it’s only a matter of time before your kids all wind up the same way.
Please, if you’re a parent, or have a loved one interested in music as a profession: do not let your child get out-fiddled by The Devil. Write to your local school board, lawmaker, or advocacy group, and make your voice heard. Music Education is important, and if we’re not willing to pay for it today, our children will pay for it tomorrow…with their souls. Pretty ominous way to end this story, right?