Brian Chung | BC - In Search of the Elusive WE

 

IN SEARCH OF THE ELUSIVE "WE"

Delivered on August 7th, 2003 at the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy in Oak Brook, Illinois.

 

September 12th, 2001.  I woke up differently that day.  I suspect you did, too.  It wasn’t my morning routine that was different.  I rolled out of bed in the normal way.  Nor was the day itself very different.  It was a typical September morning.  Those things were the same – but I was different.  I woke up that morning a part of something much bigger than myself… something I can only describe as “WE.”

Of course, you know why.  Something terrible happened the day before on September 11th, something beyond our imagination that went right down to the very core of our collective being.  But in the midst of our incredulity and grief over the tragedy of 9/11, there did emerge something rare… a ray of hope called “WE.”

As a nation, we were united.  Remember the phrase United We Stand on bumper stickers and store windows everywhere?  Remember the members of Congress leaving partisanship behind and singing God Bless America on the Capitol steps to proclaim their unity?  Remember all the American flags on cars, homes, and shops… and the unparalleled outpouring of generosity in support of those who had lost loved ones on that terrible day?

In the weeks that followed, we had our differences, but they didn’t matter.  What mattered was that we were one people… united.  And, for a time, there was nothing we couldn’t do.  If you had asked Americans to stand up and work together in any way to defend our honor… nothing could stop us!  Do you remember how it felt?

This is the incredible power of “WE.”  It’s a rare and elusive occurrence.  But when it happens, amazing things are possible.  This morning, I want to discuss ways that, together, we can harness the power of the elusive WE.

Why Seek It?

But first, a quick review for the sake of context.  Why is finding WE important?  It is because our profession, our business, has a serious problem.  In October of 2000, I described it in a speech called “Seeing the Bigger Picture.”  On one hand is the problem of competition… all the fun things a person can do instead of play music.  In that speech, I read a list of alternatives that seemed a mile long and has only grown over time.

For instance, have sports died off since the year 2000?  Not at all!  Now we have a whole new genre of “Xtreme” sports that young people are spending years to master.  Have video games faded away?  No way!  They keep evolving into new, more challenging forms such as PlayStation II, X-Box and Game Cube.  Has the Internet gone out of fashion?  Hardly.  Now, in addition to web surfing and chat rooms, people have been downloading free music and then spending hours and hours managing it all.  The number of “fun alternatives” is still growing.  That part of the problem is getting worse, not better.

On the other hand is the issue of time… or the lack of it.  People may really want to play music; but with everything else there is to do, they just don’t have enough time.

With less time and more choices, it all comes down to this – each day, thousands and thousands of people are choosing to do something else with their time besides play music.   Collectively, I’ve called these people the “Lost Millions”… a group composed of not just young people, but also adults of all ages.  Many of these Lost Millions would have been your best students, the most satisfying ones to teach.  But they’re gone… off playing soccer or golf, attending some $1000-a-week Xtreme skateboarding camp, or planning do-it-yourself improvements to their home.  And deep in our hearts and minds, we know what this has cost us – income, status, relevance in our culture, impact on lives of the millions whom we might have served… all rewards that accrue to those who are part of something vastly popular.

Opportunity Cost
Now, if you’re thinking, “C’mon, things really aren’t that bad,” you may be ignoring something called opportunity cost.  Let me explain.  Do you remember the old television show Let’s Make A Deal?  Imagine you are a contestant on that show and you’ve been given a choice between Door #1 or Door #2.  You select Door #1 and receive a prize of ten thousand dollars.  Of course, you’re ecstatic… you’re $10,000 richer!  You declare  that life is good and go your way.

However, they never showed you the prize behind Door #2.  It was one million dollars.  The difference between Door #1 and Door #2 (in this case $990,000) is the opportunity cost.  It’s what you could have had by choosing a different path.  In essence, it’s “what you missed.”  The whole idea behind “WE Thinking” (and the purpose of this talk) is to help take us all through Door #2.

AVOIDING CATASTROPHE

I must confess that the type of “WE” that occurred after 9/11 is often short-lived and based on the premise of catastrophe. It’s not something anyone hopes for.  And, unfortunately, it fades over time.  Today, the politicians are back to bickering and the ubiquitous flags are mostly gone.  We will never forget what happened; but, at some point, we all had to go on with our lives.  So, we have a dilemma.  If no one wants catastrophe to bring us together (and certainly no one does), how do we find this WE?    

A Sustainable “WE”

Thankfully, there is another kind of “WE” that can be sustained.  I like to refer to it as “team thinking” – a phenomenon in which a team of people achieves greatness by purposeful, persistent intention.  To illustrate it, let me refer to the game of professional basketball and a prime example from the 1990s known as the “Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.”

Michael Jordan came into the NBA in 1984 and quickly established himself as one of game's top players.  But, for years, despite his immense talent and solid people around him, he could never get what he truly wanted – an NBA championship.  It wasn’t until years later, when he changed his entire way of thinking, that his Bulls went on to win six titles in eight years and became one of the greatest teams to ever play the game.  What transformed them from a merely good team to a great team?  The answer is “team thinking” – the art of turning “me” into “we.”

In analyzing what makes this occur, I’ve identified several key factors that I call The Five Elements of We.  They are as follows:

    Everyone decides to work as a team
    Everyone agrees on the team goal
    Everyone puts the team goal ahead of his/her own.
    Everyone knows his/her role
    Everyone understands the roles of others

These five elements worked for the Chicago Bulls.  But can they work for us?  Let’s look at each one and apply them to our situation.

ELEMENT #1:  EVERYONE DECIDES TO WORK AS A TEAM

For Michael Jordan, this was a necessary act of will.  After failing to reach the championships again and again, he realized that he couldn’t do it by himself.  He needed people with diverse skills around him all working together in order to win.  That was the only way to achieve his dream.

How about us?  Do we think and work as a team?  On the whole, I don’t think so.  That’s partly because the nature of our profession is so individualized.  We teach alone, perform alone and practice alone.  We function as individuals who occasionally work together.  How, then, can we acquire team thinking?

The first step is to look around this room and realize, just as Michael Jordan did, that you cannot reach the pinnacle of your personal career without the people in this room and others like them.  Individual effort will only carry you so far given the obstacles we face.  If you want to go farther in your career than you’ve ever gone before, you must have a strong, unified team to take you there.

The Power of Teams
But why?  What can teams do that individuals cannot?  For one thing, teams multiply effort.  Remember the party trick we used to do as kids in which one person would lay on the grass and a whole group of others would surround that person and each place just two fingers under the person’s body?  After some silly hocus pocus phrases, everyone would slowly lift the person five feet off the ground.  I was always amazed at how easily a group of fingers could lift that person’s weight so high.  But that was the power of the team.  My two fingers couldn’t do it, but the fingers of many people could.  Teams multiply effort.

But that’s not all.  Teams also unify and magnify the unique skills of different kinds of people.  They ignite our diversity.  Remember the old television show Mission Impossible?  Each week, an extraordinary team of people would outsmart and outmaneuver the bad guys using their diverse skills.  Their team consisted of a master of disguise, an electronic expert, an intelligent strongman, a woman who could play any role, and, of course, the mastermind, Jim Phelps.  Each person’s unique skills were essential to the whole.

Now, if the little tape that explained the mission had said, “This mission, Mr. Phelps, if you choose to accept it, must be accomplished with four others exactly like you,” the whole episode would have self-destructed in five seconds!  He would have called it “Mission Inconceivable.”  Phelps needed his diverse group of skilled people to accomplish the mission.  And so do we.

How diverse is our team?  Are we just grassroots teachers?  Just university instructors?  Just artist/clinicians?  No, we are all those things, and much more.  We are piano technicians, music retailers, musical instrument manufacturers and publishers.  We are marching bands, drum & bugle corps, jazz bands, orchestras, opera and musical theatre companies.  We are MTNA (and 50 other state affiliates), NAMM, the Frances Clark Center, MENC and other organizations.  We are the music recording industry, the music press, VH-1 as it tries to “Save The Music,” and the Sesame Street MusicWorks Program as it tells children day after day that “everybody needs music.”  And the list goes on.  

In total, we are a diverse and compelling force.  But we have yet to see what we could really accomplish, because we have never fully decided to work as a team.  Let’s start now.  Begin to rethink all that you do in the context of this “WE.”   Look for chances to collaborate in everything you do.

You might start with things already in place.  For instance, the music products industry has already invested millions in valuable music research.  Learn about it... use it (visit amc-music.org).  MTNA and the Piano Manufacturers Association International (PMAI) have collaborated to create some outstanding seminars on Group Piano Teaching that have received rave reviews from attendees.  Attend one of these sessions.  When you do, you help to link our team together.

Or start a new idea.  Maybe a gifted artist in your area will volunteer to give “family concerts” (as Leonard Bernstein used to do with the New York Philharmonic) with accessible music and interesting insights.  Many teachers in the area could band together to bring families and friends to attend the event.  Perhaps a local piano technician could give a short lecture on how pianos work.  A local jazz band might play.  And a retailer might bring some interesting instruments or offer some small prizes.  As everyone pitches in, you’ve got a collaborative festival that reaches out to the community.

These are just a few ideas.  Be creative.  Start small, but think big.  And as you do it, remember what Michael Jordan and the Bulls learned long ago about climbing to the top… no one person can ever reach the summit until everyone decides to work as a team.

ELEMENT #2:  EVERYONE AGREES ON THE TEAM GOAL

Once we’ve decided to work as a team, we need to make sure everyone understands and agrees on the team goal.  With the Chicago Bulls, the team goal was easy… an NBA Championship.  Nothing less would do.  With us, it’s not so easy.  If I were to ask ten teachers about their goals, I’d probably get ten different answers.  Some would say, “I want to become a better teacher,” or “I want to create better musicians.”  Another might say, “I want to keep kids playing classical music.”  Still others might say, “I just want to make my monthly bills.”  These are all important, admirable goals.  But with great teams, there is always one overriding goal that is embraced by all.  Here is my proposal for our single team goal:  To cultivate millions of people who love to make music.

There are three key words in this goal.  I used the word cultivate because “cultivating” implies patience, caring and nurturing… the heart of a teacher.

And notice that I didn’t just say more people… I said millions of people. Why?  Well, if you’re going to set a goal, it ought to be a big one.  In business world, they are sometimes called BHAGs, an acronym for “Big, Hairy Audacious Goals.”  Another reason I chose the word millions was that “quantity leads to quality.”  But more on that later.

The third key word is “love.”  Notice that I didn’t say, “To cultivate millions of people who play music well.”  Rather, I said, “to cultivate millions who love making music.”  We must focus on “love” of music, at any level of proficiency.

As you know, teaching love is different from teaching skills.  People don’t learn love in academic fashion.  They catch it.  They see your passion, or the passion of others, and it inspires them.  Or sometimes they’ll love something because you brought it to them on their terms… rather than your own.  But why emphasize love of music rather than skill in music?  Three reasons:  First, if you truly love an activity, you’ll spend the time and resources required to do it well (the skill will follow).  Second, if you love something, you’ll tell others about it.  Third, even if you leave it for awhile, you’ll always come back to something you love.

If we all desire to reach our greatest personal potential, our collective goal should be to cultivate millions of people who love making music.  Make that your goal.

ELEMENT #3:  EVERYONE PUTS THE TEAM GOAL AHEAD OF HIS OWN

This is where most teams fail.  They say they want to work as a team, but then everyone keeps on pursuing his or her own personal agenda.  But not so for the Chicago Bulls.  Here’s how Element #3 worked for them.

The Bulls had another key player named Ron Harper.  Harper started in the NBA as a flashy, prolific scorer on some pretty lousy teams.  Though he was a great player and achieved one of his personal goals (i.e. scoring lots of points), his teams didn’t win much and he felt like a loser.  When he was traded to the Bulls, he found they didn’t need a scorer (they already had Jordan).  They needed a defender and playmaker.  Even though that wasn’t his preference or personal goal, Ron Harper volunteered.  He never scored much after that; but in that new role, he helped transform the team into a perennial champion.  Ron Harper became a winner who achieved his fondest dream and his fullest potential by putting the team goal ahead of his own.  How does this relate to us?

Some of you may not like my stated goal, because it places love of music over excellence in music.  Perhaps your whole career you’ve been striving only for excellence, with everything else being mediocrity or even failure.  This quest for excellence has been our operating model for decades, has it not?  Performance over participation.  And, truthfully, where has it brought us?  To the reality of the Lost Millions.

In a speech during the 2001 MTNA Leadership Summit, I proposed a different … to “value participation as much as performance.”  In other words, make it just as important to cultivate millions of players as it is to develop great players.  If you will do this, the results will surprise you.

In that speech, I asked this question, “Why has the competitive level of American soccer, once the laughingstock of the world, risen to great prominence on the world stage over the last 30 years?”  The answer – because the number of U.S. amateur players grew enormously during that period.  The more people who played, the better we became at every level.  Quantity preceded quality.

I went on to ask, “Why is female soccer star Mia Hamm better known and more respected among Americans today than Pele (perhaps the greatest player ever) during the prime of his career?  The answer – because millions of US amateurs are participating today.  Having more players increased Mia Hamm’s celebrity and importance. Having millions more musicians will do that for you as well.  Quantity appreciates quality.

My point is this… if your goal is only to create musical excellence, then you may never find the abundance of extraordinary students and exceptional audiences that you’ve always dreamed of.  Today, I’m asking you to give in a little.  You don’t have to give up excellence.  But put the team goal first.  Concentrate on cultivating millions of people who love making music.  In doing so, you will take part in the nurture of millions more who will grow to appreciate your teaching, your school, your concerts, your recordings, your profession and your impact on this world.  In the end, you’ll find more excellence around you than you ever imagined.  But first, you must be willing to put the team goal ahead of your own.

Those first three elements have dealt with the way great teams think.  Everyone decides to work as a team.  Everyone agrees on the team goal.  Everyone puts the team goal ahead of his own.  The last two elements involve the things that great teams do.

ELEMENT #4:  EVERYONE MUST KNOW HIS/HER ROLE

There are three primary aspects of one’s role on a team – Personal Skills, Team Skills and something I call “Raising the Team Banner.”  Let’s start with Personal Skills.

Personal Skills
On a basketball team, each player hones his skills at a particular position (point guard, guard, small forward, power forward, center) and brings those developed skills to the team.  Every team needs strong players at every position in order to win.

The same is true of us.  We need skilled teachers in every facet of the profession.  This is critical to our future.  Of course, that’s why you’re here at the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy – to explore and expand those personal skills.  And I will leave it to the many here who are much more qualified than me to discuss Personal Skills with you over the next several days.
Team Skills

But there is another aspect of our role that I can talk about… the development of Team Skills.  In basketball, there are skills that all the members of the team develop together.  The half-court offense, the full court press and fast break are examples of team skills that they perfect as a group.

We need teams skills, too.  I described three of them in my MTNA Summit speech – Make Music Making Fun, Emphasize Group Teaching and Embrace Technology.  All of these are crucial team skills that we must develop together to overcome the problem of the Lost Millions.  Rather than elaborate on them here, I’ll refer you to that speech called “Where Do We Go From Here?” on a website I've created at www.brianchung.net .

But before moving on, I’d like to add one more item to the list of Team Skills – Build Musical Villages.  Youth sports learned the concept of villages long ago, and so did my family.  After many years of competitive club soccer, my 10-year-old son was getting burned out.  His mother and I could see it and hear it in his comments.  Still, we encouraged him to keep playing.  Why?  Did we think it was in his personal best interest to keep going? Not really.  The fact is, the decision involved more than just my son and soccer.  It involved the community of relationships with coaches, families and other players whom we had seen every week for years.  It was as though a “village” had formed around us.

Even though my son was really burned out, we kept him going for two more years because we couldn’t bear to disappoint the village.  We were committed to them. They had become just as real, just as important, as the game itself.   And during those two extra years, my son developed skills that are serving him well today as he re-enters soccer as a freshman on his high school team.  How does this “village concept” affect you?

Connecting The Triangles
In this profession, we talk about the “triangle” – a very small community made up of a student, a teacher and a parent (or set of parents).  But if we want to compete with soccer and other sports, we need to expand this concept.  We need to intersect the triangles and build a village of relationships that becomes just as important as the music itself.

How often do we intersect the triangles today?  Maybe a couple of times a year at recitals?  Couldn’t we find ways to make these linkages on a more regular basis?  Perhaps in smaller mini-recitals every month for 5-6 families followed by dessert and games for the kids?  Once these families get to know each other, encourage them to get together on their own and invite other families.  Then, start another group by putting different combinations of families together.

Building a village of relationships will keep students playing longer.  And if we can keep a student playing at least through musical literacy, we may have cultivated a musician for life.  If you’re not already doing it, connect the triangles.  Build musical villages.

Raising The Team Banner
So far, in the discussion of “knowing one’s role,” I’ve mentioned Personal Skills and Team Skills.  But there is one last aspect of our role that we must understand.  I call it “Raising the Team Banner.”

The Team Banner is something that communicates who we are and what we bring to the world.  Why does anyone or anything need a banner?  In a consumer society, banners influence people’s choices.  With commercial products and services, these banners are called “brand identities.” You sometimes hear them as slogans.

For instance, who says, "Just Do It?"  What is “the real thing?”  You’re “in good hands” with whom?  And whom do you use when it absolutely, positively has to get there overnight?  You probably recognized Nike, Coke, Allstate and Federal Express with those slogans.  Companies spend millions, sometimes billions, of dollars each year to drive brand identities into your minds because they know these identities will affect your choices.  When companies or products lack identities, you drive right by them in your car or walk right past them in the store aisle.  A powerful banner is worth its weight in gold.

But why do we need a strong banner?  Because sports, our strongest competitor, has a great one.  You all know what it is: “Playing Sports Builds Character.”   Is it true?   I suppose that depends on how you define character.   Sometimes I wonder if (to use football vernacular) “ripping the head off the opposing quarterback” is character.  But regardless of its truth, millions of parents have put their children in sports solely because they believe that “playing sports builds character.”  And to be fair, it does for many, many people. 

All the more reason that we must have a compelling, unifying banner to give ourselves a fighting chance against sports.  Sadly, we can’t copy their banner.  Even though you and I know that playing music builds character… and even though we know that playing music cultivates better people, better citizens, people of real quality. We can’t copy a banner that somebody else already owns.  To say, “We do it, too!” just doesn’t cut the mustard.  We must go in a different direction.

Here is my proposal for our banner – “Practice Makes Prosperous.”  Webster defines prosperous in this way:  “To be fortunate or successful… to thrive.”  With the phrase “practice makes prosperous,” I’m saying to prospective students and their parents that diligent practice of music will make you prosperous, successful in life.

To explain this, think with me for a moment about the requirements of successful musical practice.  To be successful, you must:

    Be willing to work hard
    Be faithful on a consistent basis, even when you don’t feel like it
    Pay attention to details and not just skip over things
    Have the ability to work on your own and not rely on others
    Use your creativity (to navigate through tough passages and solve tricky fingering problems)
    Be persevering – willing to follow through to the end

Does that list adequately describe the requirements for successful practice?  Now, let’s compare that list with the things that managers in the work world will be looking for someday in their future employees.  Since I’m a boss where I work, I speak with some authority.  Let me tell you what I’m looking for.

I want someone who is willing to work hard… someone willing to be faithful to a task, even when he/she doesn’t feel like it… someone who is attentive to details, who won’t just skip over things… someone who is a self-starter, who can work well on his/her  own and not always rely on others… someone who is creative in solving problems… and someone who will persevere right through to the end.

See the connection?  Musical skills are transferable.  People who can do these things in the work world are the ones who get the promotions, get paid better and receive more recognition.  In short, they rise to the top in every field.

And you don’t have to take just my word for it.  Studies show that students in music generally score significantly higher on SATs than non-music students – on average, 38 points higher on the verbal section and 21 points higher in math.  And here’s a very interesting statistic.  A Rockefeller Foundation Study in 1990 showed that music majors had the highest rate of acceptance to medical school (66%), the highest percentage of any group.  The next highest was biochemistry majors with 44%.

Practice Makes Prosperous.  If that theme resonates with you, start shouting it from the mountaintops.  Tell it again and again to students, parents, family and friends.  Weave it into people’s minds.  And, maybe one day, when parents are choosing activities for their children, they’ll say to themselves “sports may build character, but playing music will make my kids successful.”  They may still do sports… but perhaps they’ll choose music first.

Raise the banner high… Practice Makes Prosperous.


ELEMENT #5 – EVERYONE MUST UNDERSTAND THE ROLES OF OTHERS

Personal Skills, Team Skills and Raising the Team Banner are all important elements of our role that we must know well.  But members of great teams go even farther than just knowing their own roles.  The Chicago Bulls knew their teammates’ roles almost as well as they knew their own.  They knew where the others would be (or were supposed to be) at any given moment to set up the perfect pass.  They knew that a particular move on their part would automatically trigger a corresponding action from someone else.  The Bulls mastered Element #5 in which everyone understands the roles of others.  This mutual understanding was a key aspect of their greatness.

We need this kind of teamwork, too.  We need to know the roles of others well enough to pass or receive at the right time and place.  How do we acquire this skill?  It starts with listening to gain understanding.

Come to conferences like this one not just for personal reasons, but also to hear what others are doing – listen and look for collaboration.  Read Keyboard Companion & American Music Teacher magazines with an eye toward linkage with others.
Get involved in associations and read their newsletters.  Begin to see piano technicians, retailers, manufacturers and publishers as teammates and seek to understand how their motivations and interests might align with yours.

The members of great teams understand not only their own roles, but also the roles of others.  Let us all seek that understanding.

THE IMPORTANCE OF RADICAL CHANGE
Well, there you have Five Elements of WE… things we must do to find “team thinking” and recapture the Lost Millions.  And, yes, some of them involve some pretty radical changes.  But did you know that it is often easier and more effective to make BIG changes than it is to make little ones?  That may seem counter-intuitive, but I’m living proof that it’s true.

For years, my wife and family members had commented that I was getting a little too “chubby around the middle.”  And, truthfully, I was.  I would always get around it by saying that I was on a diet.  But some would call it the proverbial “seefood” diet… if I could see it, I would eat it.

One day, I asked a trainer in a health club how I could reduce my “spare tire.”  He responded by pushing his arms outward in rapid succession.  “Push ups?” I asked.  “No,” he said, “Push away from the table.”  I chuckled for a second, but quickly came to my senses and shouted, “Forget you!”   I didn’t want that answer.

For twenty years my so-called diet was one of small changes.  Cut back a little here, indulge a little there.  Buffet (BUFF-et) my body here, buffet (buh-FAY) my body there.   I tried to operate within my own personal status quo, but I was failing.

Then, last year, when my cholesterol and triglyceride numbers went through the roof, I realized it was time for something outside the box, something really radical.  How radical, you ask?  Do I look like someone who can live without rice?  I had eaten rice nearly every day of my life, sometimes every meal.  But I gave it up… along with pasta, potatoes, bread, soda and a host of other things I really like to eat.  I had to step out on a ledge and go somewhere uncomfortable to find real change.  And now, 12 pounds lighter and cholesterol back to normal, I feel great.  And it was much easier than I expected.

The point is that radical change is sometimes easier than small, gradual changes.  In order to find “WE,” I’m asking each of you to do something radical, something outside the box, that makes collaboration happen among us.  Before you leave this conference, decide what that radical thing will be… an event, an idea, an attitude, a decision… and resolve to stay with it.  It may seem uncomfortable at first, just as a difficult musical passage feels awkward at the beginning.  But over time, it will feel great… and your efforts will bring us all one step closer to finding WE.

A VIEW OF THE FUTURE
Let me conclude with a vision and a hope for the future.  Imagine yourself alone on a lonely plateau surrounded by a great expanse of undulating hills as far as the eye can see.  In the distance, you begin to notice an ominous force amassing in the hills… a force representing the legion of activities that draw people away from playing music.

Before your very eyes, it expands into a huge assemblage of armies filling the horizon and slowly advancing toward you.  Realizing that retreat is futile, you brace yourself up, summon all your courage and sound a solitary charge.  Charge!  And you begin to march toward them.

As you come over the next hill, you discover that you are not alone.  You find hundreds like you who have embraced the one unifying goal of “cultivating millions who love making music” and who have decided to work together as a team to overcome the opposition.  With newfound vigor, you salute your partners and sound the charge!  And you march forward together.

And as you climb over the next hill, you discover that there are many more on your side.  They are from the same musical tribe, teachers like you, but with a culture different from yours.  They haven’t always shared your goals, but they too have seen the amassing opposition and have decided to put the team goal ahead of their own.  With great joy, you join together with these newfound partners and sound the charge!  And you march forward together.

Over the next rise, you are startled to find many other kinds of tribes who have seen the enemy and have rallied to the cause.  They are manufacturers, retailers, technicians, singers, instrumentalists, and associations like NAMM and MENC… who have been waiting for the chance to join arms with you in unity.  And with exhilaration as you see them standing with you, you sound the charge!  And you march forward together.

And finally, over the last hill, is a wonderful surprise.  Waiting there for you is a huge encampment of strangers; an army of people with whom you have never associated… the likes of VH-1 and Sesame Street… armies with great strength who are already raising your banner high and are willing to fight alongside you toward the goal of cultivating millions of people who love to make music.

And as you pause to look around you from the top of the hill, you realize that something wonderful has happened.  We have become a “WE”…  a powerful, unified musical force that has nothing to fear against the opposition… a force with the combined strength to bring back many of those Lost Millions… a force that understands its power to bind the world’s people together, regardless of culture or creed, and help them become better people, better citizens, people of real character… a force with the power to build a better world, a world where, perhaps, we won’t have to wake up again the way we did on September 12th, 2001.  And together as one united force, we raise our banner high and sound a thunderous charge!

And as you glance across the hills, your heart leaps to see the opposition armies cease their advance.   For in the combined forces of music, they have met their match.
  
This is the incredible power of WE.  It is a rare and elusive occurrence.  But when it happens, great things are possible.  May we all seek it… and find it… together.

 
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