The right audience will stand

My high school graduation featured an unexpected guest star—a clarinetist and fellow classmate most of our school had never heard (or bothered to hear) play before.

He’d spent his entire high school career immersed in music. Not just a member of the jazz band and the orchestra, but an influencer who drove both those groups forward to produce better music. He played in community orchestras and took advanced music theory courses at local colleges. If you were a musician who played in one of those groups, you knew and appreciated him. If you weren’t, you weren’t just unaware of his skills. You were probably only vaguely aware of him at all. That’s the way high school often works, and why so many adults claim that people barely even knew they existed back in high school.

He played a solo piece in front of 270 fellow graduates that included several flourishes at lightning speed, the kind of skill that you didn’t have to understand to appreciate.

And after he played the final note, the entire auditorium full of graduates and families leapt to their feet and gave him a well-deserved standing ovation.

He went on to study music at Northwestern and later earned an advanced degree from Yale. And nobody in that auditorium would be surprised to learn today that he’s thriving as a very successful musician.

Everyone has a craft, something you work at that matters to you. If your fellow high schoolers don’t understand or appreciate it, forge ahead. Maybe they just haven’t been given the wisdom or the opportunity to understand it yet. And even if they don’t, that’s OK. The right audience will stand when you get in front of them, literally or figuratively.