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Stuck in the Middle: Passion Projects

Picture of Kal Russell
Stuck in the Middle: Passion Projects
by Kal Russell - Friday, 11 May 2018, 9:40 AM
Stuck in the Middle: Passion Projects

I got my first real six-string in the summer of 2002.  I bought it at the five and dime (Costco) because I wanted a stress free hobby to bring me some balance in my life as a principal.   Every year since 2003, my New Year's resolution is to play it until my fingers bleed or I can complete a simple version of “Brown Eyed Girl” for my wife.  Sixteen years later, my hands are blood free and downy soft, while my G - C - G - D strumming pattern is choppy and clumsy.  Van Morrison still plays and sings the only recognizable version of “Brown Eyed Girl” in our home.  

I have often wondered if I had picked up the guitar earlier in my life, like in middle school, if my guitar playing would be as smooth as my baseball swing?  I would like to think so.  One thing I know for sure is that I would have had a better chance to learn to play music while my brain was still developing and making new connections.

I found part of my answer at our recent Monday Assembly.  Our school rock band “13”, named for their division, played ‘Iron Man’ in front of an appreciative student audience.  This Black Sabbath classic has some challenging guitar riffs.  Our grade 8 lead guitarist nailed them.   After the assembly, I congratulated our band members as they packed up their instruments and transitioned from rock stars back to regular grade 8 NSMS students.  At that time, I asked this young budding guitarist how long he had been playing.  

“Thirteen or fourteen months,”  he replied.

“Seriously?”  I responded as I counted on my fingers the number of years I had been working on G - C - G - D.   “But you’re really good.”  I continued, “I have been playing for 15…..”  I caught myself before I finished that sentence, which would have ended with ‘years’.  

“Thanks.”  He politely responded before continuing,  “It was my Passion Project in grade 7 and I have been playing two to three hours a night ever since I started.”  

“Two to three hours a day is a major commitment!”  I added before asking, “What did you have to give up to make time to practice that much?”

“Mostly I had to cut back on video games and TV.”

“Sounds like a worthwhile trade-off,”  I added.  He smiled and nodded as we both headed to class.  

Many of our classes do ‘Passion Projects’ at North Saanich.  They are like any subject or topic we study or work on in school.  If it is challenging and engages the learner they can make leaps and bounds in their learning.  Not all our ‘Passion Projects’ are this successful or life-changing, but if one is this successful then they are worth trying. 

At North Saanich Middle School, you might be asked to do a ‘Passion Project’ in class. If you get the opportunity to spend time on a project of your choice, pick something new and challenge yourself.  You just might find yourself a new hobby or you might even find yourself a rock star!  

Go Hawks!