Despite not hearing the phrase consistently, this was definitely an underlying part of the mentality of the entire music program. We were constantly encouraged to strive for the gold. There was a trophy case spanning the entire length of the hallway outside of the auditorium proudly displaying the multitude of medals won by various music groups over the years. It was virtually unheard of to not come home with a first place win. I will never forget one instance of this. It was my junior year in high school, and I was a part of the Madrigal Choir. We were not off to the strongest start, and at one point Paul Alberta (the Director of Fine Arts at the time, whom we all referred to as "God") came to one of our rehearsals. He bet us all a nickel that we would not received a gold medal at our MICCA competition. This of course affected us all in a big way. We went on to improve as a choir, and to win the gold medal in spite of Mr. Alberta's prediction. Following the win, he came into our rehearsal and gave us all a nickel. I still have mine in a frame in my room.
Another recollection from that same year was our trip to compete in Washington DC. We sang the best we could, and did not even place in the top 10 choirs in the Festival of Gold. Every one of us was extremely disappointed, including the director. It tainted the entire trip, and I remember hearing "Let's just get the hell out of here" from many, again, including the director.
Another question Dean Chin brought up was "Why are we musicians?" Do we do it do win? Maybe some people do. For some it's the prizes, the competition titles, and the fame. Others, including myself, fall in the "range of successful outcomes" volume. I believe that the majority of people fall under this category. Are there really enough prizes and first place wins for all the musicians in this world to have one? I doubt that. So why then push the younger generations on winning? Honestly, I was never one who cared about a score or a placement. I cared more about feeling good leaving the stage and knowing that we did all we could to be great. I try to encourage that way of thinking with the kids I teach now, though I am not sure they really get it quite yet. I think Dean Chin is right to be bothered by the "Music Makes Winners" slogan. Not all musicians will win, but that doesn't mean that they aren't musicians. It doesn't mean they aren't successful. Having a reminder of this in class was reassuring. Thank you for that.