Monday, December 31, 2012

Les Misérables As The Great Film Musical

One of the most important things that makes a performance by children enjoyable and engaging is their energy. You can forgive a bunch of third graders if they mess up a line here or there during a school play, but if they have good energy, the play can still work.

It is the same energy, that translates into the commitment and the dramatic determination that makes Les Mirables one the best film musicals of all time. There is much to criticize about this film. Broadway purist are frustrated that Hollywood starts took over the lead parts. The plot is sometimes confusing (and humorously implausible) for people coming to this film without knowing the original stage musical or the book. And while there are some incredible dramatic moments there are some singing performances that seem stiff (i.e. Russel Crowe and well. . . Russel Crowe).

Many of these criticism can be applied to some of the greatest film musicals of all time like West Side Story, The Sound of Music and My Fair Lady (at least Les Mirables didn't pull the "have an actor lip sing someone else's voice"). I'm not making these comparisons because I think musicals need to be given a pass or criticized on an easier scales than other films. I'm bringing up these older musicals to help reflect on the fact that the film version of a Broadway musical is a very different kind of film.

All of the great film musicals brought parts of the Broadway show to the screen that work on the silver screen and the parts that do not. The filmmakers attempt to balance the needs of the commercial audience with a desire to maintain musical integrity in a type of drama that has a very different grammar than film.

Les Mirables does a remarkable job of balancing all of these factors while doing things on screen that bring layers to the story that can't be done on the Broadway stage. There's the incredible sets that help tell the story, the innkeepers pick pocketing and the intimacy of the performances like Anne Hathaway's unforgettable performance of "I Dreamed A Dream."

No other medium but film could capture this performance in this way. Performing "I Dreamed A Dream" on stage is beautiful and powerful but there s a distance we have from the performer.

Lea Salonga is amazing, but try to imagine her performance this with an intense close-up on a large movie screen.  That's a very different artistic feat than what Hathaway attempts.  Throughout Hathaway's song, the camera frames her face reminiscent of Sinead O'Conner's video for "Nothing Compares 2 U." The previous scenes, the sets, the wardrobe and the make-up create the desperate plight and context for this song perfectly. Even before she starts "I Dreamed A Dream," we feel that we understand the tragedy but then the performance revels more emotional depth.

Everything you've heard about Hathaway's performance is true. It's raw, uncomfortably intimate and one of the greatest performances captured on film. Does the rest of the film hold up against it? No, there isn't another scene which is as powerful (except maybe for Samantha Bark's "On My Own") and many other scene get close. 

On future viewing of the Les Misérables, I will cringe as Hugh Jackman barely hits the notes for "Bring Him Home," and giggle as Javert once again does not realizes that he is meeting Jean Valjean.  Many great film have these kind of moments and almost all great film musicals do.  Those thing don't ruin this film because Les Misérable is a film that embraces what it is: a film version of Broadway show.

Many of the critics who have been criticizing this film seem to miss that point.  Instead of trying to be something that it's not, Les Misérables leans into the melodrama and embraces the spirit and grandeur that makes a film musical great. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Why You Need To Go See A Shrink - Part 1: My Moment

Everyone has moments their lives when they need to go see a doctor. Even with the healthiest of lifestyles, there are broken bones, high fevers, appendicitis and other issues that arise.

Everyone also has conflicts, insecurities, fears and mental issues in their lives that require the help the help of a psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor or therapist. And even with the best of friends and spouses, we all hit moments in our lives when we need professional help.

That moment for me was in a dining hall.

The first time I went in to see a psychologist was my freshmen year of college. Growing up in the Seattle area, being Asian was a non-issue. There were no Asian clubs in my school that I was aware of and I was rarely reminded of the fact that I was Asian. That all changed when I went to college.

There were a variety of Asian clubs that invited me to join. I was the first Asian friend for some people I met. This made me feel uncomfortable but what hit me was hardest was one night in the dining hall. I walked in and as my card was swiped I saw two long tables filled exclusively with people who were Asian. This made me feel so uneasy that I left the dining hall I immediately without eating dinner.

This felt like the most ridiculous thing to react to and this idea that I had "issues" with being Asian sounded ridiculous. How could I talk to anyone about this? Northwestern University made a big deal about the fact that they provided free counseling and psychological services so I figured, why not take advantage of this and get my money's worth out of this college.

The first session was awkward. I didn’t feel right telling a stranger about my feelings. But there were two things that made this experience worthwhile. First was the fact that when I told the psychologist my problem she didn't laugh at me and validated my feelings. And second, at the end of the session, while my issues with being Asia were still present, I didn't feel as bad about my problem.

For the remainder of my freshmen year for about six months I went in for weekly sessions. Sometimes I had a lot to say and sometimes I had nothing to say. I read some books and wrote some reflections as part of my therapy and gradually, eventually being reminded of being Asian stopped bothering me.

A couple years later when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease (which I discussed in this earlier post). I went to therapy again to learn how to control my stress which was having a direct effect on my disease. This therapy not only helped me with the Crohn’s but changed the way I handled problems and conflict in my life.

None of this therapy changed who I was. What it did was help me realize the kind of person I wanted to be and gave me the tools to become that person. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Winter Break Wisdom: Forcing Meaning Into Milestones

Sometimes we don’t trust life.

Birthday parties, prom, graduation, wedding reception, the birth of your first child . . .

These are all events in life that we sometimes over-plan and build up to be pivotal life-changing moments. We tell ourselves that if the limo is a certain color or that the center pieces are perfect than the moments will be that much more special, and that much more meaningful.

We do this out of fear because we don’t want these things that everybody talks about being so important to fall short of our expectations. Well, here’s the thing, often times these things don’t live up to expectations, because these events mean different things to different people and no amount of fore planning or micromanagement can ensure that these will be life-altering experiences.

Trust that life will bring you the experiences that you need to find meaning. Let go of this idea that you can make something special by adding material things and by taking control of these special moments.

Look for meaning not in the moments themselves but how they connect to other points in life from the past and in the future. Look for meaning not in people who share in these moments but by what you share with these people and look for meaning not only in these milestones but in every day of your life.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Sermon from the Non-Christian

I did not grow up in a Christian household and while I celebrate Christmas with my wife’s family, I don’t embrace Christianity as the center of my spiritual life.
So what does Christmas mean to me?

That’s a difficult question, and not only for us “non-Christians.” Partially, it’s because more than any other religious holiday, Christmas has become an integral part of American culture. People continue to mourn the commercialization of this holiday. Charlie Brown had issues with this in 1965, yet we seem as a culture to not really care to make movements away from the shopping and gift giving.

It’s because there’s nothing really “wrong” or “bad” about giving people gifts. Yes, it can steal our attention from more important things in life but at the same time thoughtful gift giving can really help us focus on the people that we love.

Commercialism can get annoying, but let’s move past that and consider the central story of Christmas:
The Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus Christ, the Messiah.
Let’s strip down this story for a second and take away the spiritual part of the story.
Mary gave birth to Jesus.
Christmas is a celebration of a birth. Yes, there is the layer of Parthenogenesis and what Jesus grew up to become but without those things, it is still a miraculous story.

Two Easters ago, I wrote this “Easter Sermon For the Non-Christian,” focusing on how we relate to Mary’s suffering more than Jesus’ on the cross and how there’s a powerful connection in the story of Easter to our own lives. The connection we have to Christmas is the central experience of the miracle of life.

Childbirth seems so common and unremarkable sometimes. About 350,000 babies are born every day worldwide. So what’s the big deal? People get pregnant and they have babies?  Well, it's not that simple.  

There’s a woman who tried to have a baby for ten years with her husband. They went through numerous fertility treatments, which not only cost a lot of money but also had physical and emotional tolls. They finally met their baby after the wife’s sister carried the baby to full term and delivered their baby.

Even with our modern medical technology people continue to struggle to have babies and woman continue to face childbirth with levels of risks. After talking to my brother about his wife giving birth to my niece, I realized there is nothing commonplace or insignificant about the birth of a child.

One of the things that we think about on Christmas is the impact Jesus Christ had on other people’s lives. Something I see every time I talk to a parent is how much their children change their own lives. President Obama related that the most difficult moment in his life was when his daughter Sasha was in the hospital for meningitis:
"I still shudder when I think of those three days; how my world narrowed to a single point, and how I was not interested in anything or anybody outside the four walls of that hospital room -- not my work, not my schedule, not my future."
In celebrating the birth of Jesus, we are celebrating one of the most significant human experiences. We’re taking a moment to think about this event, the birth of child and honor it not simply as a point of religious salvation, but as the center of our shared humanity.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Year 3: Week 15 – One Week Later

Throughout the country, teachers went to work last Monday morning.  We had the weekend to reflect and gather our thoughts about the tragedy in Connecticut, but like many teachers I didn’t feel like I was ready to face my students.

It seemed like that every hour a new story or photo would appear and the tears would return. I could barely think about what happened without being overwhelmed by sadness. Last Wednesday was the first day that I didn’t break down thinking about that community or hearing a news story.  As I think about it now, my tears have subsided but the heavy feeling in my heart is still present.

I guess this all would have been easier if this week I didn’t work in a school or with children. Maybe, I wouldn’t be reminded of the tragedy and think about it as much. But I do work in a school.

I spent the weekend reading articles about how to talk to kids about the tragedy and talking to friends who were teachers. I was hoping that this perspective would help me feel different; somehow better about walking into my school Monday morning. But I found myself driving to work feeling no more prepared to deal with my students feelings and my own then I did Friday afternoon.

Before school we had a special early faculty meeting. One of the things I love about faculty meetings is seeing people from different parts of the school in one place. It’s usually a fun positive feeling in the room but today felt different. There was a feeling of tension and apprehension.

I found out that some veteran teachers were not sure how to handle the tragedy with the kids. On one hand, this was comforting, knowing that I wasn’t the only one who felt lost, but one the other hand, it made me realize that this tragedy was an even more shattering. If these teachers who I looked up to were struggling with this thing, than this really was an extraordinary situation.

First thing in the morning I had my 8th grade band. I didn’t address the tragedy directly, but I did talk about “Some Nights,” by Fun. I discussed the feeling of not knowing and fully understanding the world as being something to embrace in life (as I explained in this blog post). I probably went on for a little bit too long, but I couldn't myself.

The classroom teachers had discussions with their students but beyond that it was a pretty chill school day. The thing about kids is that when tragedies happen, they sometimes don’t affect kids as much as we think. A fourth graders does not have the life experience or the mental capacity to comprehend what happened in Connecticut.

I know that there were children who were affected deeply by what happened, but I didn’t end up having any conversations with kids about it. This week really was about trying to keep it together and create a sense of normalcy for my kids. Little things caught my attention like the sound effect of a gunshot in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” when Linus throws a snowball with his blanket.

Then there were the moments that were really a struggle for me to keep it together. Watching a class of first graders walk down the hallway and seeing the kindergarten students perform on stage during our holiday program.

These kids are so small and so beautifully awkward and cute and to them the world is a beautiful and wonderful place full of love and friends. These kids don’t know how much they mean to their families and how much they mean to all of us.

So one week later. Has anything changed for me as a teacher? The main thing is that I feel much stronger about the responsibility I have with my students. Hearing parents reflect on the children that they lost reminded me of how important children are to their parents. It is an enormous amount of trust that parents put into schools. They are entrusting in teachers the most important thing in their lives and the most important thing in our society.

You can’t sit and dwell on this because it can become overwhelming and petrifying, but you can’t forget this because we can’t get lazy, there’s too much at stake. There’s too many kids we loose, so we have to make the time with the ones that we have meaning.

This was a hard week and it wasn’t any speech, news commentator, editorial or even any other teacher that helped me get through this week. What put me back together were my students.

It's hearing the voices of children singing, helping a student understand a song a little better and watching one of my third grade girls greet her friend with a hug.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Buffy's Christmas Tree Lights


Monday, December 17, 2012

8th Grade Playlist: 8 - Hit The Road Jack by Ray Charles

There are a lot of songs that reflect on break-ups and tell the stories of relationships that ended. However there aren’t a lot of songs that put you right in the middle of a break-up while it’s happening.  That doesn’t really seem like a fun place to be, but Ray Charles manages to make it entertaining.

“Hit The Road Jack” by Ray Charles is one of the most popular songs in the history of pop music. It was written by Percy Mayfield and released in 1961. This song is a conversation between a fed-up woman and a man she is trying to make leave. He tries to convince her to let him stay, but she stand her ground and demands that he “hits the road.”

This is a short song with only two alternating sections. The opening “Hit the road jack,” section sung by the Raylettes (Ray Charles’ female back-up singers) with interjections by Ray.

During Ray’s first response he lashes out, telling the woman she’s mean. But then he pulls back and states that if she says he has to go, then he’ll leave. It’s almost like he’s trying to play a sympathy card to change his mind. But then she snaps right back singing “that’s right.”

During the second verse Ray takes on a different strategy. He tries to convince her that he’ll get his act together. Then we hear one of the most powerful phrases in pop music, “don’t care!” These two words aren’t sung as much as they are growled. It’s full of attitude, strength and one of the greatest “oh, snap,” moments in the history of popular music.

The relationship dynamics portrayed in this song are fascinating. This was released in the early 1960s. The power in relationships was more often in the hands of men both legally and socially. So here’s a song about a girl dumping a guy.  The guy is unable to convince her to let him stay and she proceeds to kick him out. Her reasoning is sound, he has no money and he’s no good.

Ray puts himself out there as the guy who gets dumped. This is the opposite of a rap star bragging about how much money he has or how many “ho’s in different area codes,” he “possesses.” It’s this willingness to be the man who gets dumped, the butt of the joke and that makes this song so much fun.

“Hit The Road Jack” is empowering to women and it’s a good lesson to men to remember get their act together before a girl gets fed up because there’s a good chance that if you don’t, you may be hitting the road. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Year 3: Week 14 – Nothing to kill or die for . . .

Between classes sometimes I surf the web to clear my mind and get a break from thinking about my kids.

Today I wish I hadn’t.

Earlier in the day I saw the headline that there had been a shooting in a school in Connecticut. There weren’t very many details at the time. Because of this, it didn’t really have an impact on me and I continued through my afternoon of teaching.

Right before my final third grade class of the day I had a ten-minute break. That’s when I saw the headline, 26 victims, 20 of which were children, the ages from 5-10. Before I knew it, I had my class of 3rd graders in front of me, ages 8-9.

I got through the lesson pretty well. We’re learning “Imagine” by John Lennon for the upcoming Holiday Program (if this seems like an odd choice for a Holiday Concert, hang on, I’ll explain why I chose to have my students perform this song in a later post). I’ve been showing them videos of different artist performing this song. Today it was Lady Gaga’s cover:

When she sang “ . . . nothing to kill or die for . . .” I felt so sad and confused. Now that I know these kids, I couldn’t imagine a world without them. The idea of these kids, any of my kids being taken away from their families and this world was simply incomprehensible.

You’d think, that the more you teach, the more that you are able to compartmentalize the way you feel about your kids and the rest of your life. In many ways this is true, but in some ways it's not. Each time I hear about a tragedy at a school, it gets to me even more than the previous one.

Schools are one of our societies’ greatest accomplishments. The energy of young children, their hope and their spirit, is what keeps the best of our humanity alive inside all of us. When you bring together kids in a school with the goal of growing and becoming better human beings, what is created is simply magical.

That should never change and when it does, when the horrors of our world invade our schools, it hurts, it really hurts.  It's shattering.  

I wanted to say something to my 3rd graders. They hadn’t heard the news and this was the kind of thing that it was important that their parents talk to them about.  However I just needed to say something to them.  I felt this tragedy too deeply to not express my feeling to them.  So I ended the class with this:
One of the thing that changes when you get older is that you have more choices. Most of you don’t have a choice of whether or not to come to school, but I do. I chose to take this job and I choose to come to school everyday to work with all of you. I don’t have to be here. If I didn’t want to come in, someone else would replace me.

I like teaching you.  I love sharing the music that I love with all of you. I enjoy the time I spend with you and I feel really lucky to have that time.

Next week, we get the opportunity to perform “Imagine,” for our community.  It's a song about imagining how the world can be a better place and I know all of you can make it better, simply by being who you are. 
I’m really looking forward to your performance. I know all of you are going to be fantastic. 
Thanks everybody.  Have a great weekend. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What the "Hallelujah Chorus" can mean.

Today I led of a soprano sectional in preparation for a mass performance of the "Hallelujah Chorus."  Before starting this group of about seventy 7th-12th grade students I tried to explain to them the point of what we were doing:
One of things that I love about music is how the personal meaning we find in music extends beyond the artists intention.  Handel wrote this song to glorify and celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  For those of you who are Christian, Handel's intention is meaningful to you, but as someone who is not Christian like myself, it's not meaningful to me in this way. 
It's like "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" by Taylor Swift.  I don't listen to this song and think about breaking up with someone.  I think about one time when I was making cookies with my wife when this song was playing. 

What we are creating here, the meaning we are connecting to this song is centered on how it feels to work on this great piece of music and feel the sense of community that comes from performing music with each other.
So let's get to it, here we go. . . 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Some Nights by Fun

Where did this guy learn his dance moves? From One Direction? And what is he wearing? Why is he wearing a woman's trench coat and why is he wearing riding pants? The rise is all wrong, it's like down to his knees. And his pants are way too short for his shoes.

- Diana (my wife)

I got to admit that their fashion also distracted me from the fact that they were performing “Some Nights,” a great pop song with some revealing and insightful lyrics set in a unique musical landscape.

“Some Nights,” describes a man lost in the circumstances that life has put him in. The title line, “some nights,” sets our minds somewhere between the magic in the night that can uplift us and the darkness that haunts us.

Fun tells the story of a man unsure of his life and his surroundings. “What do I stand for?” echoes through the song as he questions the world that he lives in, which encourages us to reexamine our own lives.

The opening call is a glorious and confident musical statement. It sounds like a call to action, a call to war. It’s starts the song as a chorus for all to sing along with but the lyrics present an unexpected banner to unite behind.

By “cashing in” his bad luck he is saying that he is giving up on fighting. Sometimes he thinks his lips, his words can build things up, but other times he wishes that he would loose the power of speech all together. He is haunted by a ghost of someone he cares about and ends declaring for the entire world to hear, that he doesn’t know what he stands for.

What we stand for comes from our beliefs. More often than not we declare what we would like to believe as opposed to what we actually believe. In a sense, this song is asking up what we truly believe in.

Fun takes us through some different settings to help us explore our own beliefs. There is the setting of war, declaring that he doesn’t believe hype and the pressures of his peers, “I try twice as hard and I’m half as liked.” He wishes that, “this all would end,”so he could find himself in his friends.

The most powerful line in the song is when he considers his nephew and the fact that this amazing life came from a “terrible night.” This line brings different situations into our mind but instead of dwelling on what happened, we are left we the question in our minds. What if what we stand for can result in an outcome that we don’t expect? What if we are wrong?

All of these questions are set against a mash of 1980s rock vocals, march like percussion and dance-pop sounds. It initially doesn’t make any sense how such existential lyrics fit such glorious sounding music.

If you believe that values are not to be questioned and that you stand, unwavering in your belief than this song doesn’t really work. However if you’ve been in the world and encountered the lives of others you realize that the journey of life is all about questioning who we are and what we believe in. This is not something to be ashamed of or feared because this is something we all share.

The days when the world makes perfect sense and you know for sure what you stand for come right before the nights when this all comes into question.  Look forward to those nights because it is in those moments that you see the most amazing things.  

Friday, December 7, 2012

Year 3: Week 13 – The Roses

Right now I’m in one of the most stressful times of the school year. I’m preparing for my 3rd and 5th graders holiday presentation and helping organize the middle school and high school choral concert. At the exact time when I need my kids to really focus in, they start becoming distracted by the upcoming Holidays. Also, there’s the general insanity that surrounds the Holiday season that inevitably seeps into my work life.

During these times it’s easy to forget to stop and smell the roses. Teachers are trained to be reflective and to constantly be thinking, “what could I have done better?” We place high expectations on our students even though we know sometimes that they will not reach them and other times we take far too much responsibility for the way our students learn and behave.

With all of that twirling around in our brains, it’s easy forget to take time to savor the seemingly insignificant, but meaningful moments that make all the stress and the craziness worth it.

These are moments when students want to tell you something about their lives. Like when a fourth grader stopped me in the hallway to tell me how she injured her foot earlier in the week during gymnastic practices.

These are the moments when students relax. Like this morning, when my 8th grade band students while playing a card game during some free time at the end of a band class stopped trying to be cool and were just themselves.

These are the moments when students feel a sense of accomplishment. Like when my 3rd grade students sang the two parts of a partner song at the same time for the first time.

The tricky thing is that so often we are thinking about the next part of the lesson or the next class that we don’t slow down and really savor the time we have with our students. If we want our students to cherish their learning and to have meaningful experiences in our classrooms, then we need to have those moments as well and truly be with our students in the present.

The school year goes by so quickly and if we don’t stop to really enjoy and appreciate these moments, we lose sight of our goals and the point of our jobs. It’s exactly the times when the stress is the highest when we need to help create these moments for our students and ourselves.

Take your time and smell the roses. The papers will get graded and not everything on your lesson plan must be covered. Your kids are worth the extra time and so are you.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Thunder Road - Part 3: Magic In The Night

There are things that haunt us in our lives. Regret chases away our dreams and petrifies our motions.

Throughout “Thunder Road,” we get a sense that Mary has some thing that is holding her back from joining the protagonist in his car but we aren’t sure what it is. While we never hear the details, the last part of “Thunder Road” focuses on how much bravery it takes to move beyond the ghosts of the past into the possibilities of the future.

 Mary has made promises that she has broken. These boys that she has hurt and sent away haunt the “skeleton frames of burned out Chevrolet."  Mary can’t escape all of the mistakes she has made, all the sins of her past and in the darkness of the night they overtake her. Her graduation gown, the symbol of what she worked so hard for, is in rags.  What she thought would bring her liberation is just an illusion.

As the night ends, there is a “lonely cool before dawn.” The engines of the burned out Chevrolet's filled with her broken dreams, start to roar like an animal heading towards her soul. But when Mary steps out onto the porch and sees him standing there, all her regret and fears, disappear on the wind.

The perspective switches one more time and as Mary climbs in, he thinks, “it’s a town full of losers and I’m pulling out of here to win.” This line is about leaving everything behind, moving on with one’s life and taking a chance to make something happen. As Springsteen sings “win” we hear the music rev up like an engine and in the sailing saxophone line we see the car drive out onto thunder road.

“Thunder Road,” like many of Springsteen’s songs works through a simple arrangement of chord progressions. If you know the basic I-IV-V chords on a guitar you can work through most of this song. Combined with the harmonica at the beginning of the song has a folk-like sensibility. Springsteen mixes this with the grandeur of Phil Spector’s symphonic pop songs like “Unchained Melody.”

“Thunder Road,” lacks a clear verse and chorus structure.  Instead it unravels with a stream of consciousness, slowly building and evolving across a musical landscape that reflects the nostalgia in all of our hearts.

When Springsteen broke into this song in the pouring rain at Wrigley Field, I pulled my wife close to me. As the harmonica line sailed into the night, I felt tears welling up. You could feel the entire stadium begin to sing with Bruce. Then Bruce put his mic down and let the audience sing “ . . . young anymore, show a little faith, there’s magic in the night, you ain’t a beauty but hey you’re alright.”

Then Bruce responded approvingly “well, that’s all right with me.”

With these words, the audience is singing about Springsteen himself. He’s not the twenty-something he was when he first sang “Born To Run,” but he’s still our man.  These lines are about what is the most important things in life, faith, love and the belief that there is magic out there. There is wonder in the unknown and if we believe in something hard enough and take a chance, we can all find our own “Thunder Road.”

Monday, December 3, 2012

8th Grade Playlist: 7 - The Scientist by Morgan Gold/Coldplay

Dear Morgan,

Musical heroes: Train, Taylor Swift The Black Keys, and you, Morgan Gold.

I’m a music teacher in Chicago.  To get to know my 8th graders, I asked them to send me youtube clips of their musical heroes.  A lot of the clips were what I expected, but there were some videos that were surprises like your performance of “The Scientist” by Coldplay.

I know this song well. “The Scientist” is the first Coldplay song that connected with me. The washed out production of "Clocks," while unique, didn’t really capture my imagination.  It wasn’t until I saw Chris Martin perform this song that I got drawn into their world.

There is something magical about this song. It’s like a great novel. You know there’s a deeper story and instead of becoming frustrated that it’s not revealed, you are excited that you get a glimpse. This is a song about vulnerabilities, insecurities and hope.

If it’s possible to love a song because of one line, then I love this song because of “you don’t know how lovely you are.” It’s one of the most beautiful moments in music I’ve ever heard and the setting and arrangement of these words truly is beautiful.

This is what I brought with me when I watched your video for the first time, but there was something more than just the song itself that made this video powerful for me.

We so often focus on the worst of the Internet and how it enables bad behavior.  Sometimes we forget the amazing connections that can be made because of technology. What you’ve done is a great example of what’s amazing about not only music but the internet itself.

Morgan, you were brave enough to put yourself out there and because of your courage you’ve inspired people and you are at least one person’s musical hero. That’s a big deal. Right now your video has 371 views. It doesn’t seem a lot when compared to the amount of views that popular videos get, but it’s still amazing when you try to imagine all of those people in one room. 

We live in a world now where young people are empowered not only to create and share their art but to inspire other young people. I’m so excited for your generation to be able to have this exchange.  I can’t think of a better song and performance than your rendition of “The Scientist,” to represent what that means.

There’s no irony, cynicism, or sarcasm in your performance. It’s devoid of everything that people who don’t know young people unfairly stereotype about people your age. And like the lyrics suggest, this performance gets back to the start: music's role in connecting us to other people through our shared humanity. 

Keep creating Morgan, keep playing and keep singing.