The Olympic motto, Citius, Altius, Fortius, is a Hendiatris, or a figure of speech. These three word phrases were typical in ancient Greece and Rome (Veni, Vidi, Vici, etc.). Citius, Altius, and Fortius translate to English as Faster, Higher, and Stronger. The Olympics bring about a sense and feeling of the common good and a brotherhood among humanity.
One can hardly watch the Olympics without being awestruck by the excellence that is achieved by the athletes of the games and the feeling of goodwill that is perpetuated by the event. Although perfection is rarely seen (if even possible), excellence abounds and we as musicians should literally, take note of what it is that makes these Olympians truly great.
Let us start off our new school year by reflecting on how our music students, music ensembles, and even we as teachers and educators, can obtain excellence within our music programs:
- We must first know what excellence is…
What are the best examples of our music, ensembles, teaching techniques, etc.? Without an acute awareness of “the best” we are blindsided by our own ignorance and any comparison that we make of what our achivements might be are foolery.
- We must be goal oriented and disciplined…
What are our musical goals and what must be done to achieve them? Without a goal and the discipline necessary to achieve it, we are simply wandering quickly to nowhere.
- We must believe in our cause…
Without believing in what we are doing, we are destined to mediocrity at best.
- We must persevere…
As students and teachers, we must not be afraid to fail in order to achieve. Whether something we are working toward takes one time or one thousand times, we must be ready to make the commitment to continually improve and move forward. Even the most disciplined and goal-oriented of people must persevere to achieve things worthwhile.
- We must strive for perfection…
Perfection can never truly be achieved. There will always be someone better, or something that can be done better. Our struggle for perfection leads us to excellence in what we do. In order to be excellent…we must first know what excellence is… See number 1 above...
As we look forward to our new school year and the music that we will teach about and perform, let us strive to be:
Citius– Faster with regard to being accepting of each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
Altius– Higher with regard to our standards for ourselves, others, and in everything that we do. AND
Fortius– Stronger in our commitment to making excellence the outcome of all of our endeavours.
Here’s to a great year of music!
Joseph M. Pisano, Ph.D., is an industry innovator, educator, clinician and lecturer, trumpeter and conductor, and the creator of many music and education websites. He is currently the Vice President of Innovation and Engagement at Keystone Ridge Designs, Inc. After twenty-three years as a professor and administrator in higher education, he made the move into industry in 2018.
As one of the youngest full professors in Grove City’s history, he served in many capacities during his tenure including Professor of music, Director of Music and Fine Arts Technology, Technical Director of the Pew Fine Arts Center, Associate/Assistant Chair of Music and Fine Arts, Director of Jazz Studies.
He finished his tenure at the college as the Director of Bands, where he directed the college’s Symphonic Concert Band, Wind Ensemble, Marching Band, Pep Band, and various smaller ensembles. He continues to guest direct bands, consult with music programs, and adjudicate ensembles and programs today.
He has been named a TI:ME Teacher of the Year, received the JEN Jazz Educator Award, the PA Citation of Excellence, and named a “member for life” of the PA Intercollegiate Bandmasters Association. He is a past Vice President of the Technology Institute for Music Educators, an associate member of the American Bandmasters Association, a past President of the PA Intercollegiate Bandmasters Association, and a member of various education and music honoraries.
He has written for numerous publications including DCI Magazine, Teaching Music Magazine, SBO, and was the Educational Editor for In-Tune Monthly Magazine for eight years; he has contributed hundreds of articles to various publications.
He is an active conductor, trumpeter, clinician, and educator. Find out more at his website: jpisano.com.