Strike the Band

Our city has a great municipal band, and my family usually attends the annual patriotic concert, as we did last night. Kids, parents, and grandparents bring their lawn chairs and blankets in anticipation of some rousing renditions of Souza and the like. The concert in the park starts at 8:00, and some of the youngest attenders wear pajamas.

Unfortunately, every year the band director, a talented professor who teaches at a college out of state, sees fit to fill the first half of the concert with pieces few of us have heard, some of them pretty subdued. As darkness falls, the mood is usually quiet and reflective, rather than patriotic. By the time the intermission comes, few patriotic pieces have actually been played at the patriotic concert, and people start filing out, especially those with kids.

Then, when the crowd is greatly thinned out, the band director decides to relent and give us the kind of music we came to hear in the first place: Stars and Stripes Forever, the 1812 Overture, and Washington Post, for example. Unfortunately, many of the children are long gone and don’t get to enjoy it. This happens every year.

It finally dawned on me last night why this guy decides to start with unknown music rather than provide what we have come to hear. In the private sector, you learn to give people what they want, or you go out of business. In academia, unconstrained by the market, you give people what you want. Students don’t have a choice. Our band director is primarily an educator. He is giving us what he wants.

About Stan Guthrie

Stan Guthrie is an editor at large for Christianity Today magazine and for the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview. His latest book is God's Story in 66 Verses. He also is author of All that Jesus Asks: How His Questions Can Teach and Transform Us, Missions in the Third Millennium: 21 Key Trends for the 21st Century, and A Concise Guide to Bible Prophecy. He is co-author of The Sacrament of Evangelism. Besides authoring, writing, and editing books, Stan is a literary agent, bringing together good authors, good books, and good publishers. Stan writes the monthly Priorities colum for He has appeared on National Public Radio's €œTell Me More,€ WGN's Milt Rosenberg program, and many Christian shows, including The Eric Metaxas Show and Moody Radio'€™s €œNew Day Florida.€ A licensed minister and an inspirational speaker, he served as moderator for the Christian Book Expo panel discussion, Does the God of Christianity Exist, and What Difference Does It Make?
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