Issue # 48
May 23, 2001
Why I Laughed In Music Class
(A 500-Word Composition)

By Rich Wilhelm

The following is exactly what you probably think it is: a "500-word composition" I was forced to write in 1978 as a class punishment for displaying a certain degree of merriment in my eighth grade music class. I don't remember whether I laughed that day or not (I think I did) and I certainly don't remember why we were laughing, but it wasn't long into the class before our frustrated teacher ruined our weekend with this most cruel and unusual punishment.

I think it's funny how the defiant rabble rouser of paragraphs three and four turns into the weepy brown-nosing apologist of paragraphs six and seven.


I think the laughter in your music class on October 27, 1978 was a combination of a few elements. First, I think the laughter went in a cycle. One person started and then everyone joined in. It was harmless at first, then got more excited.

I also think you have a bad time for a class. I mean, Friday afternoon at 1:30 is not a good time to have a class. It was a beautiful day and a nice weekend was expected. Who could think of classwork at that time, especially with the knowledge that soon these beautiful weekends would be filled with cold and wind and seven feet of snow?

Even beyond that is the idea that syncopation is not the most exciting thing to learn on a beautiful afternoon such as last Friday. In fact, although it may be fascinating to an ardent musician, I think most people would find it very boring for that kind of day or any kind. That's not to say I don't like music but where or when am I going to be needing syncopation if I'm not interested in playing an instrument?

Syncopation just confuses me and takes away from the joy of just sitting back and listening to a good song. I can't enjoy it if I have to locate notes and accents I could care less about. Jazz is supposed to be music to just listen to and enjoy. And if Jazz is supposed to be improvised, why did the musicians have to worry about certain notes and accents? I think that's almost turning music into a science. I don't think a music class should be so technical. Many great rock stars could hardly read music and even less probably know syncopation. George Harrison of the Beatles once said that none of the Beatles could read music. And I know that getting an Unsatisfactory in music won't keep me out of high school so why should I worry about it?

I'm not a very musical person. You know that. I love really any kind to listen to but when it is turned into an exact science I don't get as much joy out of it. I guess I got bored Friday and decided to goof off.

I guess I really do not know why I laughed besides what I just said. I'm sorry for what I did. I think your job is one of the hardest occupations I can think of and I know I would not want it. It probably took you much time to prepare Friday's class and I think it was very wrong for us to laugh. I know if I were teaching a class and that happened to me I'd be very upset. Although I earlier stated that I did not find syncopation interesting I just realized that maybe you don't find it all that interesting either. It must be even worse for you since you know more about music anyway.

On Friday I laughed, I guess, because I had had a good day and everything was going along well. I kind of got into a wild and crazy mood and really didn't want to be in school at all. In other words, I just wanted to have a little fun. But I am very sorry.

(Please feel free to email to others who may be interested or to print a hard copy for them but remember: The Dichotomy of the Dog is copyright 2001 by Rich Wilhelm. If you plan on making a bazillion dollars from this piece of writing, please let me know so I can sue you or something.)

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