Friday, May 16, 2014

Orkin’s Law: Everlasting Rewards

by Jerome Orkin and Steven B. Orkin

Last night, I attended an orchestra concert in which my daughter performed. Though she didn’t have any solos and we could barely see her onstage tucked near the back with the rest of the violists, the concert was nevertheless enchanting. The orchestra instructor, Lynette O’Hanlon, is an excellent educator: motivated, enthusiastic, and committed. She has a unique capacity to bring out the best in her young musicians and is the kind of teacher that her students will remember with a fond smile twenty years from now.

Orchestra concerts featuring young students can often be an ungainly exercise in screeching strings, bad tempos, and worse pitch, but that was not the case here. They performed challenging selections with a wide variety of tempos and technical difficulty with impressive élan.

As I watched the performance, I couldn’t stop thinking about a short piece my father had written under similar circumstances many years ago. I’m not sure exactly when he wrote it but based on my older brother’s age, I’m guessing it was the early 70’s.

It is unfortunate that I only learned of my father’s passion for writing near the end of his life. Like me, though he had a general fondness for people, he was a fairly resolute introvert, disinclined or more likely, unable to convey his thoughts and feelings in the way he wanted on more occasions than not. Writing gave him an outlet to do that.

Let us therefore engage in a bit of time travel. Let us journey back through the years as I step aside and turn this blog over to my father, who has contributed enormously to its very existence.


The other night I went to my oldest son's school concert. The concert is comprised of fourth, fifth, and sixth graders, and the program includes choral groups, and orchestra and band arrangements. I was all set for an enjoyable, but not very exciting evening.

I couldn't have been more wrong. It was one of the most beautiful and rewarding experiences in my life. Most of the kids had been practicing for about two months for the choral arrangements, and about three months for the band and orchestra. All the arrangements and selections on the program were beautifully done, yet, there wasn't the usual tension and frustration. They were really enjoying doing it. It was refreshing to see such glee and contentment on the faces of the kids, because they knew they did their job well; and such appreciation and satisfaction on the faces of the staff who must have worked awfully hard to obtain a successful evening such as this was.

I couldn't help thinking as I sat there, how this conglomeration of kids, so different, with so many different problems could work in such a coordinated way, and so smoothly. What a lesson we intellectual and sophisticated grown-ups could learn from them.

It was only a school concert, but to me it was an example of what could be done with things like poverty problems and civic problems. It takes a little investment of time and energy and caring, but the rewards are everlasting.

Thanks for the lesson, Dad.

And thank you for reading.