Lessons Learned. A mum’s letter to her son’s examiner
Dear Mr. Examiner,
I didn’t know anything about you before you came to Bahrain as an examiner for the Rock and Pop examinations but I had to check out on your music, especially since you failed my son on his drums’ exams.
All I can say is I really admire your work, and in no way would I ever doubt your talent or question your qualifications as a drummer and an artist. While checking out for your works I really enjoyed your music and I declare myself a fan of jazz.
Unfortunately I don’t share all of my music preferences with my son. He’s much more into rock style. I believe you found out he’s more inclined to rock music if I can guess from your comment on his improvisation performance where you noted that “this was too much in rock style for the specific genre”.
I will put aside this comment although I would be interested to know from you, how wrong would it be for a 10 year old kid to play in “rock style” especially when taking a “Rock and Pop” examination, to result to a fail mark. I’m sorry but didn’t see any comments for this particular song on the technical aspects of his performance and I would say that such a comment pertains to the drummer’s personal style and the examiner’s own music preferences. But that’s just me, so please don’t take the words of an amateur drummer too seriously.
But to the point. My intention with this letter is to actually thank you. Thank you for failing my son. If anything, you have given him a valuable lesson. Not one in drums, but in life. You certainly have taught him that there is injustice in this world. That there are instances that even if we do everything right, something or someone might come along the way and turn things upside down. And this time, just this time, it happens and it won’t be our fault.
I know my son and I know he’s too harsh on judging himself. When I saw his report at first I was hesitant to let him know of his fail marks, afraid he would be deeply hurt and discouraged from picking up the sticks again, especially since he seemed so confident about his performance in the exams and very optimistic for his results, one of the very few times his perfectionist self was really satisfied since the day he embarked on his music learning journey.
Thank you for this slap. Oh, yeah, it did hurt at first. He did cry. He couldn’t understand why this happened. “Why”? “I KNOW I did well”. I knew it too. I was there. I listened. And with the poor sound isolation of the examination room and my tiny musical ear I knew he did great. He certainly didn’t deserve to fail.
So I had to tell him that out of a total of 14 candidates who sat the exams in Bahrain only 3 have passed. Which I guess it’s true. I had to remind him how irritated you seemed at the day of the exams and how we thought and commented on it to be your way of looking “cool” and “strict”. And believe it or not my son would want you to be strict. Very strict. With regards to his learning be it in music, history or science he demands from his tutors that they are strict with him, strict but fair too. He knows that only by challenging his boundaries he can be a better version of himself.
Anyways, as a last resort to console him I suggested we should watch one of his favorite movies, “Whiplash” for once more. That calmed him down and made him realize that whatever other people say about you, however they null your expectations and dreams, you have to “upbeat” them by trying harder and believing in yourself.
I can’t thank you enough for this lesson on injustice. Nevertheless, as a mum I also had to teach my son a lesson out of his experience. And my lesson had to do with people’s reaction to injustice. I had to show him that no injustice should remain in the dark. That when we see injustice we have to take all necessary steps to correct it and make sure it won’t happen again. That justice should at least be given a chance.
So I hope you don’t mind that I had to report to the examination center for an investigation on my son’s marks and inconsistent comments. Of course I had to put down all the details of the examination so I had to report that on that day you seemed a little “too” nervous. I didn’t mention that as per rumors you had some issues with your arrival or accommodation in Bahrain cause this would be simply gossip, but I had to mention that when it was my son’s turn to take the exam, and with a 30 mins delay, you sent him back out of the examination room and decided he would be examined last on the list on the grounds that he’s “left handed” and you needed to “save time”. I don’t know if being a left handed is considered an impairment to you, but then again in the next minute or so, you changed your mind and asked him back in, so luckily my son didn’t have to wait for another couple of hours for the 10 seconds he needed to place his floor tom and ride from right to left. That would be “unfair” for him waiting that long to simply fail, don’t you think?
I really felt obliged to return the favor back to you. So there you have it. My thank you and a lesson: Never underestimate a mum’s sense of justice.
Honestly wishing you the best of luck in your career,