Sorry Terry

I was asked to write a letter of recommendation for a student. Awkward situation because I didn’t think they were very accomplished. I asked the advice of other people who are teachers, more experienced with these things than myself. The result from those conversations left me thinking I should be truthful about their talent or lack thereof, or to put it another way, be truthful about their position in the class. What marks they received and how it placed them not at the top of the class but not at the bottom either. As it turns I couldn’t proceed, didn’t want to risk hurting their feelings. That’s how I imagined this playing out if I told that particular truth but then I remembered there are other truths equally true. The student was absolutely sincere believing themselves capable of a musical career and willing to work for it and I agree and who’s to say they are wrong? There’s nothing untrue about many people, incredibly successful, might not have a high mark in my class. I suspect Alan Frew, Terry Brown, Drake for starters and who knows how many other Juno and Grammy winners I might need to have a talk with their parents or maybe I just want the opportunity to be unconflicted. In the end I wrote to the gatekeepers and posed questions to them about their own relationship with the music business and how many zillionaires does our culture frame as accomplished musicians who to many of us are far from accomplished musicians. Then what is more important for this process – the marks the student obtained or my sense of their dedication, creativity and ambition?

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