MUSIC: It was Robert Duke’s first year as a teacher. Now a distinguished professor and expert on music learning at the University of Texas, Duke told a Kids in a New Groove lunch gathering about an early teaching challenge. “Third period was intermediate band,” Duke says in the droll manner of a stand-up comic. “There was nothing intermediate about them. They just had had their instruments a year longer.” Yet none of the kids had yet learned to how to play. So he let them line up to leave class earlier every day. Then he heard first one, then two sax players working out the bass line for “Louie Louie.” It was then that he realized that what the class wanted to do was play songs, not learn instrumental mechanics. So he directed the whole class to tackle the bass line the next day. Turned around intermediate band. Perfect anecdote, told at a well-catered AT&T Center meal for the nonprofit run by Karyn Scott that has provided music mentoring for hundreds of foster kids.
HEALTH: Obviously, something was different about the crowd. The mood at the Hyatt Regency’s Zilker Ballroom was unusually animated. Wasn’t this just another gala, albeit for the St. David’s Foundation? Then I was reminded that the foundation doesn’t need a gala. It distributes $50 million from the profits of St. David’s HealthCare, run with partner HCA, to area health initiatives. Its small-scale Toast of the Town benefit parties fund the Neal Kocurek scholarships. Yet, as the foundation’s Lisa Trahan pointed out, this night was a rare time when all the different pieces of the hospital’s social puzzle, including the system’s medical personnel, gathered under one tent, so to speak. Which explains the high spirits. And why a local news show was broadcast from the room on the occasion of the group’s 90th anniversary.
FOOD: New faces on the food and wine scene. A keen observer pointed out that, besides the usual food bloggers, wine experts and food industry types, a whole new set of folks signed up for Big Red & Bubbles, a signature benefit for the Wine and Food Foundation of Texas. (They fund scholarships in the culinary fields.) The masses testing chef samples and splashes of red or bubbling wine did look and sound somehow different. A little dressier. A little more choosy about their tastings. Not snobby, per se, but knowledgeable and perhaps more capable of affording the better vintages. Also, a little more elbow room at the Driskill Hotel made all the difference. Other benefits that use the cruciform upper rooms should study their plan and their traffic patterns.
CHARITY: I’ve never seen anything like it. Didn’t figure chic lawyer, philanthropist and contemporary art collector Deborah Green for a Settlement Home for Children shopper. “Where else am I going to find 30 Santa caps for so little,” she retorted. “I know value!” Indeed, value was thick on the ground at the Palmer Events Center for the charity’s annual garage/estate sale. Sofas, chairs, lamps, gadgets, nicknacks, clothing, blankets, books … the vast space was filled with what used to fill other people’s lives. Each item must have come with a story. The stalwart volunteers at each counter were as helpful as possible during the preview party for the event that comes before the tonier Junior League’s A Christmas Affair and the artier Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. Gotta learn more about this ancient Austin group that provides a spectrum of children’s services, especially how it might differ from Austin Children’s Services, formerly Austin Children’s Shelter.