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Seeking Wise Counsel

Mike Lawson • Perspective • July 31, 2020

Since 1996, my jobs have involved giving a voice to teachers, experts, and people who know far more about a subject than I do. Though I only wrote a couple, I published over 200 books and videos on music, audio production, music business, and technology. I seek out smart people and give them a vehicle.

I make sure they read well, their work looks its best, and get them to market. In doing so, I get to continue learning about my passion. It is a huge win/win for me. I wanted to really understand audio signal flow, audio effects processing, microphones, and recording, so I found people like Bill Gibson, Bobby Owsinski, and others, and put out dozens of titles between them.

I wanted to know more about how the inspiring White Album and post-Beatles solo albums, and the first six David Bowie albums were put together, so I sought out Ken Scott, who engineered and produced those records. I am not the expert. They are.

Since 1997, I have been involved with Technology in Music Education (TI:ME) and took over just short of a decade ago as executive director, not because I was a music teacher, but because I was so in awe of what these music teachers are able to do now that I wanted to help. Today’s music teachers are way different than what I had access to growing up in the ‘70s and early ‘80s. At the core of all of this is the impetus. I’m a musician. And though they had fewer resources and no tech at all, I was inspired by teachers, people who knew more than me, and people who made it happen. Because of that, I now possess some bit of expertise on making music, mixing, releasing albums, publishing music, but I still don’t think of myself as an expert. I still seek out those smarter than I am, to learn from, and to give them a vehicle. I’m still learning, too.

Experience counts, education counts. Knowledge put into practice is everything, for everything. Because of that mindset, my worldview is shaped (and my reactions somewhat predictable), when I see people who fall prey to those posing as experts, those who shout down experts, those who deny science and expertise, knowledge, and putting it into action. Seeing political agendas form for reopening in places where it just isn’t safe is frightening. As I write this, the GOP canceled their nominating convention in Florida, within a day of the governor of the state was announcing why it was safe to get kids back into classrooms. My inner doubting-Thomas, the kid-who- called-out-the-naked-emperor voice in my head said, “If it isn’t safe to gather for a political convention, how is it safe to send kids back to school?”

We need wise counsel from scientists and doctors (not TV doctors or YouTube doctors), our best and brightest, guiding these choices, in concert with educators who have empathy for the students and staff they work with, making plans. We don’t need politics in this. We don’t need families presented with waivers to sign indemnifying schools if their child gets sick and, God forbid, dies. We don’t need to rush. There is absolutely no good reason to rush. We put a man on the moon, we can do this. Kids won’t irreparably suffer by waiting a bit longer, not getting ill or passing the virus to their family member, or teacher and having to carry that burden for a lifetime. We all want the same thing here. Kids need to go back, classes need to resume, life needs to be “normal” again. Out of the hundreds of teachers I know, I’ve not talked to any who feels good about “normal” right now. I’d love to hear from some educator readers that are excited about opening and feel like they are ready to go amidst the pandemic. So far, I’m only hearing from those who are not. I’m open to learning. Please, “school me.” I’m seeking wise counsel. Again.

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