The Front Line (2019)
for string bass, prepared piano, percussion, and electronics
Commissioned by Else, If, Else
Over the past few months I have been working in a classroom at a local preschool. This position has given me the incredible opportunity to form close bonds with many different children from diverse backgrounds, and I have found this work to be meaningful and rewarding. However, like many teachers in this current political climate, I have inevitably thought about the worst-case scenario: what would I do to protect these children in the event of a school shooting? In the United States, teachers are increasingly being expected to sacrifice their lives to protect their students. But the truth is, in the event of a school shooting, I don’t know what I would do. I would like to say that I would take a bullet for any of my students, but it is impossible to know.
Ultimately, teachers should not have to grapple with these kinds of questions. It is not fair to ask teachers to be the first line of defense in the event of a shooting, and it is unacceptable that this aspect of our American culture has reached a point where many consider arming teachers in the classroom to be a more viable solution than enforcing reasonable gun control measures. Teachers already dedicate their lives to educate and provide an enriching and safe classroom environment for children—the prospect of dying should not be added to this already heavy undertaking.
The Front Line is a meditation on my experiences of being an educator in an age where school violence is increasingly normalized.