Whatever doubts

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Whatever doubts I had were swept away when Maggie sent me a sheaf of poems the students had written for their English class after my visit.Benz InfluenceHe came.We laughed, he played.Vibrant, animated and cheerful, as he swept throughLifting the schools atmosphere and Confidence.People would think thatEastenders like us wouldn’t have liked it, but as hePlayed on his black piano the whole school wasLifted.He spoke of all the good we could achieve.Even as an underachieving school.He made me realize thatEducation was so important to everyone, not just theIntelligent, it’s as simple as that!His influence on our school was phenomanal.[sic]Thanks Ben for helping me and all ofEastlea Community School.September 21, 1998Dear Eastlea students,I enjoyed our time together and am looking forward to coming back in less than a month.I pointed that out as an example of downward spiral thinking.Downward spiraling is everywhere about us and it is so easy to fall into the habit of thinking that way.You sat quietly for a long time before it began and then sang, laughed, and listened while a wild man roamed around on a stage for nearly two hours.Was it as quiet as it could have been?Did I keep everyone’s attention all the time?It was a great start!Now we will soon have a chance to be together again.I am really excited that you will get to hear their sound, and see what happens when I conduct them.I know you will be touched and delighted and amazed!Will you give some thought to how it will be possible to keep the hall really quiet while the orchestra is playing, so that everybody can enjoy it and the musicians can play their best?I hope that your truly amazing teachers won’t feel that they have to work so hard going up and down the aisles keeping discipline.They love music and want to be able to listen too.Do you think it would work to have them sitting down, just listening, like all of you?Anyway, I am looking forward so much to being together again to explore the music and have you find out more about how it all works.And I think the people at Arthur Andersen are super to make it all possible.See you on the 22nd of October.And meanwhile, see what happens when you give the people around you an A, not as a judgement, but like a gift.Eventually a huge warehouse was located, and forty buses were hired to transport the children.Chairs had to be brought in, a stage and a platform for television cameras built, and lighting and a sound system installed.The £2,000 price tag was simply too steep on top of all the other costs, which had now escalated beyond anything they had planned for.But I knew that without that view, half the meaning and interest of the event would be lost.I paid for it myself, and raised £10,000 from the Westminster Bank for the filming.The youngsters greeted my return with wild enthusiasm, assuring me that the first occasion had not been such a failure after all.Several members of the Philharmonia, who had assumed that the children would be inattentive and restless, looked quite perplexed and became genuinely interested in what I could possibly have done the last time to cause this tumultuous reception.The secret was, I believe, that I genuinely wanted to share the music with the children, and I trusted their ability to respond to it and to be partners with me in our whole undertaking.I began by having the Philharmonia’s cellos play eight bars of a gently undulating accompanying figure.Turning around to the young people, I asked, How many of you heard the cellos? Naturally, everybody raised his hand.Again a show of hands revealed that everybody could hear the sound of two voices together.Now I asked the audience to listen to the cellos and violas playing the same eight bars, with the added sound of a bassoon and a clarinet playing intermittent short leaps, one octave apart.Raised hands indicated that hearing four separate voices simultaneously held no difficulty for the Eastlea students.Returning to the beginning of the passage once more, we added the soulful, somber song 706 Views