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Arthur Plays the Blues

Season 6 Episode 2a

The classic "I want to play this complicated piece but don't want to practice'' comes back up in the open to this episode, as we see in the open with Arthur dreaming of playing Zukofsky's Concerto No. 5, which is not a real piece. What he plays sounds more like an old-time country fiddle tune like the Orange Blossom Special played on the piano, before he goes back down to earth and learns from Mrs. Cardigan that he would now be taught by Dr. Frederic Fugue. As it turns out, Binky's fearmongering wasn't super far from the truth: he sure made Arthur play a lot of scales during that first lesson and assigned him a piece that requires lots of dexterity. When I was in the band we had several clinicians who came in to work with both the band as a whole and each section, many of whom were professional musicians who played in the military bands, and a few of them always made me think of Dr. Fugue.

I'm not gonna sugarcoat this one: I never liked practicing either when I played saxophone. Even going up to my senior year of high school when I stopped playing, it was always a pet peeve of mine, but really it's the only way to become great when you play. Arthur blowing off all his practicing until two days before the lesson, and thus basically sight-reading, basically invited the distractions he wouldn't have had if he had practiced the whole week–especially when playing something as complex as the Invention in F Major (although for the record, that isn't the first piece I would assign a third grader if I was a piano teacher). One distraction can easily become several. Really he deserved to get fired by Dr. Fugue for his lack of effort. It was very good writing for Arthur to be surrounded by the piano after getting fired, both on the TV and hearing the kid at the music store play the Bach flawlessly. I guess it's good for him that he found motivation from somewhere?

Dr. Fugue was rightly perplexed when Arthur came back, and Arthur seemed equally as perplexed that Dr. Fugue let him play. Even though he made 78 mistakes, there's a saying that if you don't mess up, you're not trying, and Arthur had at least tried this time. Hopefully he will wise up this time around after being “re-hired.”

By Guthrie Edson

Buster's Sweet Success

Season 6 Episode 2b

As a business school graduate, one thing I learned about quite a bit was elevator pitches, 30-second speeches you give when networking or trying to sell a product. That's not the main message of the episode, but it plays a big part in how things pan out. We see the montage at the beginning of the various characters trying to sell stuff and having success, with a variety of tactics used, some more time-honored than others.

Another business/customer service mantra, however, is that you don't get a second chance to make a first impression. Buster, unfortunately, succumbs to that during his first run at selling the chocolates, although to be fair, I'm not sure a third grader would necessarily know what "mouthwatering" and "delectable" mean exactly. An observation: the folks in Elwood City are a tough crowd when it comes to funding the band. Maybe Buster just picked the wrong neighborhood to canvass, but still–if he did this in my hometown where there was lots of support for music in schools, he would've sold his whole supply in one afternoon and then some.

The ultimately fatal blow here, though, is Buster breaking rule number one: never snack on your own supply. That's probably why when I was in high school band, we had fundraisers for our band trips by selling Yankee Candles or doing things that didn't involve food. This is one of those times where Buster made it worse by trying to make his own product and drawing the ire of everyone in town. He probably would've had to work off his debt anyway, so why make it worse by selling chocolates with soy sauce and tomato in them? But he gets the last laugh by being able to capitalize on his *peculiar* chocolates by selling them at Jack's Joke Shop. Also, shout-out to Jack for supporting the band, because the rest of the town sure didn't.

By Guthrie Edson

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