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Beginning notes

Cuts in grade school programs remove music's building blocks

The cornerstone of teaching is to continually build and expand on the known. To this end, math starts out with counting objects, social studies begins with learning about the home and music begins with singing and rhythm. Each subject advances to the next step in a march toward mastery.

Two Medford parents, Karen Lollis and Teri Tipton, are worried that the building blocks needed for a successful music program in our elementary schools are crumbling and will not provide a solid base for higher-level performances.

As usual, budget cuts are the culprit. Slashed budgets have reduced general music in grade schools to one day a week; chorus, band and orchestra are offered only after school at four locations.

In an effort to prevent losing even more ground, Lollis and Tipton have formed a group, Save Music in Medford, and have put together an eight-member steering committee. First on the agenda is gathering information and ideas from locals interested in restoring the music program to its previous strength. This will be followed by mapping out a plan of action.

If you have attended any of our junior high or high school concerts in recent years you are aware of how accomplished advanced students are. Don't miss this delight. Take time to watch a musical play or a performance of the choir, band or orchestra.

Check out the extraordinary sounds of the jazz bands at South Medford High, local high school marching bands or the Youth Symphony. Keep in mind that the masterful skill and talent you hear began earlier, on a simpler level, and grew with practice and good instruction.

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Kitzhaber's next act

It was a bit hard to define our uneasiness over the prospect of John Kitzhaber making another run at Oregon's top state office.

But in a press conference Friday in which he announced he wouldn't run for governor, Kitzhaber brought it into focus: He doesn't always play well with others.

Kitzhaber was a dynamic leader, who had the misfortune to be Oregon's governor just as some onerous initiatives came home to roost and put the state's finances in a tailspin. We don't blame him for that, but his difficulty in working across the aisle with Republicans during that time gave a lot of people pause as they considered the prospects of another Kitzhaber term in the governor's office.

In Friday's press conference, he unintentionally underlined that concern with a couple of comments directed toward a member of his own party, incumbent Gov. Ted Kulongoski.

According to reports from the press conference, when asked if he had told Kulongoski that he wouldn't run, Kitzhaber replied, I just did. In other words, no, he didn't offer the governor that courtesy. When asked if he would support Kulongoski's health care plan, he shot back, No one's asked me.

Kitzhaber now plans to push for a universal health care plan for Oregonians, a noble plan that will face an uphill climb in Salem and in Washington, D.C. We wish him well in that effort and we hope that he will touch up his diplomatic skills as he goes forward.