As noted previously, my son has not "applied himself" as thoroughly as he might have in high school. He has instead focused on music, and we have fought to keep him in music electives and after-school band projects against the efforts of teachers and administrators who felt strongly that his music was a destructive distraction from more serious academic studies.
High school is now essentially over for him. He is interning at his school, assisting Roy, his music teacher. He's having the time of his life.
Last week, his final report card arrived. At his school, the grade designations include narrative reports. His academic grades were not stellar, though he passed everything. As usual, most of his teachers believed that he was working far below his potential, and they were not wrong.
But he achieved honors in his music elective. And Roy's narrative evaluation read as follows:
"Ben, what more can I say! You were like a student teacher all year, and now as my intern, you actually are a student teacher. you a natural born bandleader/composer. The combination of skills that you have (playing all rhythm instruments very well, leadership skills and arranging skills) are perfect for being a bandleader or musical theater composer. You have an uncanny ability to link music and words, and your sense of what should happen in a rhythm section is something that's can hardly be taught. You've also become a formidable guitar soloist. As hard as it is to be a professional musician you have the skill set to go there ands be successful. Just keep studying hard and stay focused—you're going to be something else!"
How all of this—his neglect of schoolwork and his early musical success—will play out in the future is, of course, uncertain. But despite my years of nagging him to put down the guitar and focus on his homework, I can't help thinking that there is value in learning to do something really, really well, even if it means sacrificing other important accomplishments. I'll keep you posted.