Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Remarks for Hugh Hodgson School of Music Graduation Ceremony, May 10, 2012

I am pleased to be here on behalf of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences to extend congratulations to all of you students, parents, friends, as well as to the faculty and staff of the Hugh Hodgson School of Music, on this most important day. Students, you have earned a degree from one of the finest schools of music in the nation. You should be proud. Many of you will go out in the world to become practicing musicians, to compose or conduct or to sing, to teach at a school or university, or to research the history and forms of music, or to train future teachers. Many of you will go out into the world and take up vocations that have little to do with what you have studied for the past four years—that is OK. You’ve had a great preparation to be an active and contributing citizen, whether as a musician or businessperson or teacher or parent or journalist or whatever.

Whatever avenue you follow, the main thing you must do in this world—a world fraught with serious problems and perils—is engage. Use the creativity and appreciation for art and music that you have acquired through your experience with the Hugh Hodgson School to make the world a better place.

Performers and teachers and lovers of music play a crucial role in our society. The oldest musical instrument ever discovered—a 35,000 year old flute made from the wing bone of a vulture—suggests that music has been an innate and essential aspect of human experience since its recorded beginnings. None of us can imagine our lives without music. Yet musicians and lovers and teachers of music are part of a larger matrix of humanness that is more important than any one individual, more important than music itself. Be a citizen of the nation and the world. Prove the values of the arts and of music by using them to help others, to assuage the sick, to enhance the quality of individual lives, to elevate the thinking of people and of nations, to bring passion and insight to the business world, to give pause to those who think purely in terms of numbers, to enable those who suffer and despair to see above and beyond the constraints that hold them down. Make your passion for music your avenue towards doing things that matter in this world and this time that need your help.

Once again I congratulate you on this propitious day.

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