Principal's Blog - 23 November 2017

21 Nov 2017

Dear members of the Marcellin College family,

I often hear people express regret about giving up an activity or skill they were engaged in as a child. It could be that they stopped playing a sport or that they gave up the study of a language at school. Perhaps the regret is one where they never took up a particular activity at all. The regret I hear most often from people is associated with the playing of a musical instrument.

As a boy my parents had the good sense and foresight to ensure each of their four sons were given the opportunity to learn a musical instrument. At the age of 10 I began to learn the piano. At first I was excited and motivated as I navigated a new language of treble and bass clefs, key signatures and notation. In a short period of time I developed an ability to string notes together using both hands and make what could loosely be described as music. I even managed to entertain my extended family at Sunday afternoon lunches even though my attempts would have been considered rudimentary at best!

But soon the initial excitement faded and I found myself in a less enthusiastic frame of mind when it came to practice and attending lessons. I found myself making excuses to my teacher for not having done the requisite practice for that week and I became distracted by the many other social and sporting activities which were becoming available to me as a teenage boy. I often found the prospect of playing kick to kick in the park with my mates or watching television far more appealing than sitting at the piano and practicing scales and Schubert!

What sustained me during this time and enabled me to go on and complete Year 12 music performance and study tertiary level music education? The passion, enthusiasm and dedication of my music teacher. My piano teacher taught me not only to place my fingers on the correct keys and conquer the physical technicalities of the instrument, she instilled in me a love of music. With each new piece of music, I gained an understanding of a period in music history, a knowledge of the culture of the time and an appreciation of the composer who had the skill and imagination required to group a series of notes on a page and produce something beautiful.

At last Wednesday evenings’ Junior Music concert, I attempted, in my own clumsy way, to implore the young men gathered in Saint Marcellin’s Hall to continue with their music, not to succumb to the temptations of other activities particularly when things became challenging and frustrating with regards to the learning of a musical instrument. I beseeched parents to continue to support their son’s endeavours and encourage them to stick with it particularly in those darker less enthusiastic moments.

One factor which gives me great confidence with this endeavour is the influence of the music teachers here at Marcellin. Our classroom and instrumental music teachers are highly skilled and committed people who inspire a love of music in their students. These people give of their time and energy as they support fledgling musicians to become competent players. More than this, they inspire in our boys a passion for playing through an appreciation of the beauty of music and its ability to transport the soul of the player as much if not more than the listener.

Perhaps this philosophy could be easily applied to other important aspects of our lives. Whether it be learning a language or studying Maths, it is easy to give up when the going gets tough. More significantly, when friendships or even family life become a little difficult the temptation is there to walk away. Faith too is sometimes difficult to sustain particularly in world full of material distractions. It is in these times I draw on the words of the that 80’s classic by the legendary Billy Ocean – When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

Whether it be faith, family or even music, working through the tough times can bring unimaginable rewards down the track.

Mark Murphy