I’ve been looking to our Platte County schools for signs of musical sanity this week.
Watching the Grammy Awards broadcast on Sunday night did this to me. What is supposed to be the best of American music chosen for broadcast to an international television audience is instead overstuffed hype.
With perhaps a few exceptions, you wouldn’t have much left over in the way of music — if you remove the electronics, fog machine, psychotically scrambled video backgrounds, dancers in dumb costumes and stupid jokes from host James Corden.
Everything has its place, I guess.
I wouldn’t want to in anyway limit freedom of speech or expression. I guess I could have changed the channel, which I did on occasion when I couldn’t take it anymore.
But I kept thinking about the superficial TV fluff and how it compares to your average high school teenager at a vocal music contest as they step forward to sing before peers and judges with only their voice to make the music.
Or perhaps it’s a kid competing with a saxophone solo in the band category. Maybe at the choir concert a youngster has to bravely step forward for a solo part.
I know which one feels more real.
Much of the music I witnessed on the Grammys reflected anger and chaos. Maybe it’s because I live in Platte County in the middle of America, not on the edge, but I don’t think the world is that mean.
In fact, it’s sort of like most of America was never as wishy-washy as the overwrought spectacle of choreographer Busby Berkley’s dance numbers in movies made in the 1930s and 1940s. Only they were happier in those musical numbers.
It’s true I’m not a spring chicken anymore, and pop culture is aimed at the young.
But I do love music and listen to a wide variety. Yet, I couldn’t relate to what was supposed to be mainstream music.
Beyonce was going for the sun goddess look but seemed to have a Cleopatra complex. The country artists sounded like metal rockers.
Did anyone really want guys in a band taking their pants off to accept a Grammy in their underwear?
I don’t mean to diminish all Grammy awards, arbitrary as they are. A friend of mine won a 2016 Grammy in the bluegrass music category, and I was thrilled for him. I knew it took darn near a lifetime to achieve. They hand out the bulk of Grammys for a wide variety of music in an afternoon event in Los Angeles that precedes the televised extravaganza.
Yet, I hope people will also remember that music can be found closer to home than a television show.
For instance, our own Park University in Parkville has a world class music department, faculty and students, and they render performances in our county. The university’s International Center for Music often stages concerts on campus in the Graham Tyler Memorial Chapel.
You may well be hearing a future Grammy winner in the classical music categories at one of those concerts. I’d bet they sound great without microphones.
I did some checking of our local high school’s activities calendars posted online. Park Hill High School students will be having choir solo and ensemble sing offs at 3 and 5 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 19 in the auditorium, band room and vocal room. North Platte High School students will likely be doing some good singing and dancing when they present Mary Poppins onstage on March 17-18.
Other high school students will be having more concerts or sing offs as spring arrives.
Watch the activities calendar for the school near you. People often go to high school concerts to watch family and come away startled at how good the kids sound. If you want less hype, more real, take a listen close to home.
Bill Graham, who lives in the Platte City area, may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.