Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Song Birds Saved The Crab Apple Tree

By Mark T. Burke

Today, I'll tell you a story.  This is a bit of a style shift for me.  But, there's been something happening in my back yard over the last few months that I feel has a great message; a message with significance in the world of music education.

The Song Birds Saved The Crab Apple Tree

There's a small Crab Apple tree in my backyard.  It doesn't look too old, but, it has seen a few years.  Our home has been owned by quite a few families since the early 80's.  I believe we are the 6th owners.  The little Crab Apple has enjoyed the pampering and endured the lack of it from its care takers.  Its bark is rough and stained and its branches thin.  Its leaves had been so small over the last few years.  Last year, it bloomed in spring like a champ.  But as the blooms fell, the leaves sprouted, small and pale.  As the summer heat moved in, the small leaves turned brown and fell.  Hoards of insect and those worms that build those ugly nests moved in.  I was sure this spring would bring no blossoms.

To my surprise, the Crab Apple blossomed.  I loved the tree, but I didn't know anything could be done.  So, it appeared, the Crab Apple would see another year.  After the blossoms fell, the leaves began falling off again.  This year seemed worse.  I was stumped.  I had tried sprays and pruning and those little nutrient sticks.  Nothing was working.

One day, I found myself at the hardware store buying a bird feeder and seed.  I brought the feeder home and hung it on a feeder stand.  The birds weren't finding it.  There was an occasional fly by, but no real feeding action.  I decided to move the feeder.  I hung it on a branch of the Crab Apple tree.  It didn't take long for all kinds of birds to find the feeder. Blue, yellow, red, purple, gray, brown, big and small birds began taking turns.

Something began happening to the little Crab Apple.  The small leaves were getting bigger.  The branches began filling out casting more shade on our patio. The small suckers at the bottom of the tree weren't growing as quickly. Today, the little Crab Apple tree looks better than it has in years. 

As I watched the birds one morning, I noticed how they took turns at the feeder.  Some would wait in the tree while others pecked away.  Eventually, the ones in the tree got tired of waiting and flew in for some seed.  Those in the tree seemed busy though.  They were hoping around, scraping at the bark, and searching through the leaves.  I realized quickly that they were eating the bugs from the tree.  I guess the bugs served as appetizers. The birds didn't know it, but they saved the life of the little Crab Apple tree.

*****
There are many lessons to be learned from this story.  Lessons of CHANGE, working together, innovation, finding answers, paying attention, observing and responding, shifting priorities, perseverance, nurturing, discovering solutions, continual growth and more. If this story makes us all think about our music (or other) programs in a new way, fantastic.  Share your thoughts, your solutions, your innovative ways of creating change and moving forward.

Thanks for reading.

 

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