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Sometimes flunking a college course takes more effort than passing it

By June Mathews

All the recent late spring talk of exams and grades and graduations reminded me once again of the time I flunked music appreciation. Yeah, you read it right: music appreciation. The crip course to end all crip courses has a big fat “F” next to it on my college records. But there’s more to the story than you might think.

Despite the whole flunking thing, I fondly remember the instructor who taught the course. A church organist when he wasn’t teaching music appreciation and related courses, Mr. Williams (not his real name) was a talented man dedicated to making life better for others by sharing his passion for music.

And he was no difficult taskmaster, either. His lectures were fairly interesting, and since I enjoyed the subject, I passed the exams without a whole lot of extra study.

Mr. Williams did, however, have one hard, fast requirement: During the semester, each student was to attend five music-related events of any kind and write a two-page review on each one. Which I did. But man, was it tough. You see, about midway through the semester, my dad was hospitalized with a heart attack, and two weeks later a second, massive attack ended his life.

But being that my education was important to my parents – probably having a lot to do with the fact that they were paying big bucks for it (no scholarship student here) – I slogged along through those weeks of worry and grief, managing to meet at least the minimum requirements of each course I was taking, including music appreciation.

For some reason, though, Mr. Williams failed to note one of my five reviews in his records. Thus, when my grades arrived at the end of the quarter, music appreciation was marked “Incomplete” on the tra June Mathews at

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