The Hamilton of Music Education

I wish I knew the right way to approach this letter. I wish I could express the pride, the guilt, the sorrow, the grief we are all feeling right now. How do I write 400 words to describe my father with any sense of justice?

As I stare at my computer screen, trying to muster any sense of poetic symbolism, all I can think about is the musical Hamilton. Alexander Hamilton, a boy from the Caribbean with nothing to his name, suddenly finds himself in the middle of the most pivotal time in U.S. history. A man whose words and passion could move mountains. A man who loved his family but found himself taking care of “one more thing, then I am ready to step away and move Uptown.” That time never came, for this country needed his wisdom and guidance to shape the future of even his own children.

A man who ran out of time.

Robert W. Smith, a boy from little Daleville, Alabama, finds himself defining music education for generations to come. A kid who would play piano in the church on Sundays with his grandmother, trumpet in the marching band on weekdays, and writing any jingle in his head by hand any time between. A man who stood his ground when told “You can’t, that’s not how it is done!” and asked why not. A man whose compositions were more than their difficulty or technicality, but that special spark of humanity. A man who wrote, and wrote, and wrote. Like he was running out of time.

You have no control who lives, who dies, who tells your story.

Every other Founding Father’s story gets told. Every other Founding Father gets to grow old.

These lyrics have permanent residence in my mind. Dad had more to give. He had more to share. He had more to say.

But life had other plans. And now, just like Eliza, it is my mother’s, my sister’s, and my job to continue. It is our job to carry on the vision of harmony, empathy, and growth. My father may not be here anymore, but I know he is watching from above, giving us the strength to move forward.

Thank you to all friends, family, teachers, and students who have supported us during this time.

We will all tell his story.

Link to original article.

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