I don't usually copy and past articles like this, but I know many of you don't have Facebook accounts. Matt Turner has written a terrific letter to the citizens of Wisconsin and Governor Scott Walker.http://www.facebook.com/home.php#
Wisconsin citizens, my name is Matt Turner, and I am a professional musician (performer and composer) and educator. Ideas recently put forth by Governor Scott Walker and his supporters have made me realize how ignorant and blind I have been regarding my career in the arts. I wish to offer my apologies to the citizens of Wisconsin, to my family, and to my friends. I hope you will forgive me.
I would like to apologize for becoming a professional musician almost 30 years ago when I joined the musicians’ union (AFM) (1). Music was supported in the schools, and Wisconsin was a leader in music education. Little did I know that almost 30 years later, Wisconsinites would finally see the light about having to fork over fourteen cents per Wisconsin resident to support the arts (2). I never would have thought Wisconsin would be at the bottom of the food chain compared to other states with regard to arts funding. I’m now overcome with joy that we are at the bottom, but fourteen cents per person is still way too much money to pay for the “arts”. I’m sorry I took advantage of all the wonderful opportunities offered in our state while I was growing up. What a waste of my time and your tax dollars.
I would like to apologize to my parents who endured listening to me practice cello and piano each and every morning before I went to school. I would awaken between 4:00 and 4:30 a.m. each day and practice. I worked very hard. I’m sorry for putting my mind and body through so much (for years!) so I could better myself as a musician. What a waste.
I would like to apologize to my parents for investing so much money in lessons and instruments when I was a child. Sorry for helping put me through college and then graduate school. I mean, really. Imagine spending six years in two music schools only to realize years later that what one does is meaningless and trivial. Just think of all the time I wasted attempting to better myself. What a shame.
I would like to apologize for the thousands of performances I have given, for the one hundred plus recordings on which I have played, and for the dozens of pieces I have composed and had published over the years (3). Did these offerings have an emotional impact on the listener or challenge people to think about their lives differently? I seriously doubt it. What a waste. I really don’t know what I was thinking.
I would like to apologize for having spent the last 20 years of my life working with tens of thousands of public school music students during residencies in this country and abroad. Much of my time has been spent with students in Wisconsin—students who after working with me were inspired enough not to quit music (as many had planned to do). I really wish they had quit. Having fewer musicians around means giving less money to freeloading, lazy musicians who have never worked a day in their lives. How did I miss this? Do we really NEED more of the “arts”?
I would like to apologize for making a living as a musician and educator. I really shouldn’t be paid since I love what I do (4) and what I do isn’t a real job. I wish I had chosen a profession benefiting humankind. I could have contributed more working as a stock broker, or working as an anchor for the national FOX news network, or running a large music publishing company which shows its love towards music teachers by supporting political candidates who clearly hate educators. I really could have been someone—someone who cared deeply, contributed to society and attempted to raise the station of all people. I’m really sorry people. Being a musician or an artist does NOT do any of these things. I’m so sorry I didn’t have the foresight to realize this. I’m starting to see the light.
I would like to apologize for teaching part-time at the university level over the years. It seems irresponsible to prepare students to enter a field in which people cannot make a living or one in which people have little if any respect for what one does. Students (performance majors take note), I should have told you the truth. Sorry about that. The dirty little secret is that there are no jobs, there is no hope, and at best you’ll be working 50 hours per week at a community college teaching students (many of whom have no business being music majors) how to become college professors at a community college. By the way, you’ll need your doctorate in order to become a college professor, you’ll need to take a vow of poverty, and you’ll need to be willing to get a little grease on your arms when you are working the deep fryer at a fast food restaurant those additional 20 hours per week so you can pay your rent (5). The good news is that people in the fast food industry are better respected than musicians or artists. At least people in fast food restaurants MAKE things. Or, at least they make things we can really enjoy.
So again, I’d like to offer my sincerest apologies to the citizens of Wisconsin for being such a burden in so many ways. I would like also to thank Governor Scott Walker and the members of the JFC (especially Senator Alberta Darling—way to stick it to those artists!) for bringing me to my senses. I just wish I could do it all over again. If I could only take it back.
Who knows, if perhaps I had spent less time working hard as a young person and had ignored the arts and my school work, I too may have had a shot at becoming governor of Wisconsin.
1. AFM union thugs made me join by holding a gun to my head. Please don’t hate me.
2. Thank goodness we don’t live in Minnesota. There, the state spends almost SIX dollars per person on the arts. Can you believe it? And, for what? Papier-mâché lefse art exhibits?
3. I doused my recordings and pieces with gasoline and lit them on fire. My new life starts now! (My burning compact discs created toxic fumes—quite fitting.)
4. Not always.
5. See, those music theory skills really do come in handy!