Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tickling the Ivories

(I wanted to bring this dala horse in downtown Lindsborg home!
It's my kind of horse of course!)

I am running a marathon today. Unfortunately, I won't be burning many calories as I race from one piano bench to another down a hallway at Central Christian Schools in Hutchinson.

But the "race" couldn't be for a better cause. The Heart of the Plains league middle school music festival gives students a chance to make music.

We celebrate grand feats on the gridiron or the basketball court. But too often, we don't find the same fervor for the arts.

My mind is cluttered with key signatures and dynamic markings that drift through my consciousness as surely as "visions of sugarplums" danced through the heads of Clement Clark Moore's central characters.

Why have I done this for 16 years now? The answer is in the music. I hope I share my love for the music and give the students a tip or two that will make a solo more than black notes on a white page.

Yesterday, my friend and a former band instructor at Stafford Middle/High School shared a link on his Facebook status that demonstrates this very message. Both Tony and Kelly Ballard are among the teachers for whom I've accompanied through the years. It couldn't have been better timing to see this vivid demonstration of what musicality truly means.

I'm playing 30 different accompaniments today - mostly vocal and instrumental solos, a couple of ensembles and two choir numbers. We've been practicing since January. I hope I've done just a little bit to help the kids realize it's more than just singing or playing the right notes.

For me, it's way more than that. Some of these students have a lot of God-given ability. Some are not as blessed, but they work so hard and want it so badly.

So, even though the music has center stage today, it becomes a lot more to me. My time on the piano bench is more about being a cheerleader, an encourager, a person who cares for an uncertain adolescent (and isn't their parent or their teacher, but someone who chooses to be there.)

So, if you wouldn't mind, say a prayer for the kids today. Pray that they will overcome the nerves and just remember the music.

Music is what feelings sound like. ~Author Unknown

(And, while you're at it, say a prayer for Mr. Gill and me, too!)


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