Tuesday, March 26, 2019


There Are No Shortcuts
Rafe Esquith
New York: Anchor Books, 2003, 20-21

…I realized then where the problem lay. My students, and so many of our young people today, want a good life. They love (even if they don’t always appreciate it) liberty. They all want to be happy. But I realized that day that my class was a microcosm of what is wrong with so many of our nation’s young people today.

What happened to pursuit? We aren’t handed happiness. We’re given an opportunity to pursue it. But how many children really pursue their dreams anymore? How can you go after things when you’re sitting in front of a television set or computer screen? Now that I’d identified the problem, I needed to find the answer.

And then one night we (class of sixth grade students) went to a concert to hear Lynn Harrell play Dvorak’s magnificent cello concerto at the Hollywood Bowl. After the concert, forty-five of my students were invited backstage to meet the world-renowned cellist. It was an amusing sight, as Harell is six feet five and dwarfed my little sixth-graders. The kids were intimidated by his height, his fame, and his extraordinary ability. One of them, a beginning cellist, asked Harell the question that would come to define part of my class mission. Peter looked up and said shyly, “Mr. Harell, how can you make music that sounds that beautiful?

Lynn had the answer I had been looking for. “Well,” he said as he squatted down to look Peter right in the eye, “there are no shortcuts.”

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