He was partially deaf in one ear but he could hear symphonies of unheard music.
He loved the art and science of vocal harmony even though he experienced the torment of an abusive father.
His music inspired and challenged The Beatles to create their magnum opus, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”
He was called one of the greatest composers of the 20th Century by Leonard Bernstein.
His music served as a soothing and inspiring salve for millions even though he spent years of agony immersed in drug abuse, therapeutic misdiagnosis and mental illness.
He completed his “…teenage symphony to God” after a twenty-seven year period overcoming demons of doubt and despair regarding his own musical genius.
His records have sold in the millions and dominated all kinds of Pop Charts.
He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Fame, honored by the Kennedy Center for lifetime achievement in the Arts, received Grammy Awards and other numerous accolades of prestige.
Brian Wilson, co-founder of The Beach Boys, was a pioneer in Rock, Pop and Classical Music and he received an “F” in his high school Music class. The song was called “Surfin.'” In 1961, it became the first single for The Beach Boys. It was a moderate hit and served as the joyous, harmonic template for a canon of songs that inspired millions. Its origins were branded a failure.
Recently, Brian Wilson visited his high school alma mater of Hawthorne High School in California. His grade on the assignment was changed by the current principal from “F” to “A.” The visit made global headlines and reverberated throughout social media. (You can read an article about the visit HERE.) I surmise that his appeal was playful, good-natured and mildly tongue-in-cheek. The opportunity for a world-famous alum to visit an alma mater more than likely uplifted everyone’s day in that Schoolhouse.
Imagine the “F” having a different type of effect on the young Brian Wilson. What if that grade served to stifle his dreams for musical expression? Imagine Brian Wilson quietly folding up his musical tent and discreetly placing his sketches on a forgotten shelf in a closet. What would have been an ignition for glorious dreams is lost in the forgotten ether of defeat. How would the landscape of musical innovation reign differently if we did not have impact of Brian Wilson’s chords, notes and harmonies? Imagine a world without a deeply moving songs like “Good Vibrations,” “God Only Knows” and “Surf’s Up.”
Simply imagine a world without the resonance of Brian Wilson’s music. His compositions are eternally carved into the soundtracks of many lives. Songs are like old photographs lovingly placed in cherished scrapbooks of memory. Brian Wilson’s songs have been the backdrop for awkward first junior high school dances, weddings, stadium singalongs and even funerals.
Grades in the schoolhouse serve all kinds of purposes. We may even disagree with the means and ends of grading procedures. There is much philosophical and intensive discussion on the purpose of grades, assignments and tests. Regardless of our stance in the grading debate, we cannot permit grades to determine the destiny of the students we serve. This is where the sincere belief and positive schoolhouse culture collective fostered by teachers and administrators must connect in service of our students.
In music, “resonance” is that deep, sustaining reverberation in sound. Brian Wilson was very much in tune with this as he arranged multi-layered, complex harmonies for The Beach Boys. He respected and valued the sustaining power of resonance in his music.
Educators have a resonance as well. It’s not musical in this case. We have a significant impact that reverberates through the lives of our students. Resonance is not only shaped in the sincere, positive tone of our voices but also in the dynamic and sonic-filled experiences we foster for our students and teachers. Resonance is an eternal etching in the positive activities and ground-breaking, creative assessments we articulate for our students and teachers.
Resonance is the impact we bring to the Schoolhouse. It is our passion-fueled belief that our impact matters. That resonance is fueled by the choices we make as educators. We make the choice between being the architects for either a positive or negative resonance. The sublime aim is for our resonance to uplift, inspire and challenge students and each other in the Schoolhouse. We must be intentional with the resonance we weave for others. Our impact does matter and make a significant difference in the lives of others. That is the key in which we must play as educators in the universal Schoolhouse band.
Thankfully, Brian Wilson did not allow the resonance of a failed musical assignment to determine the trajectory of his destiny. Our joyful obligation as educators is to intentionally thread our resonance in support of the positive. The Schoolhouse is a catalyst for a symphony of dreams for our students. Think of the possibilities that our educational resonance will compel for our students to do great things for the future. Our resonance matters.