Why am I more nervous when my children have recitals than when I used to have my own? Why don’t I feel my feet when they have their annual testing? Thankfully, testing is only once a year. Recitals come around every six months.
And now that our church family is aware that our children can play instruments, they ask for a special music now and then. It has already happened three times this year, so I think we could probably plan on a quarterly special music performance by either one of them for next year.
My children, being as young as they are, view music and practice as a chore. Maybe it’s my fault. I do not know how to make it fun. And, perhaps, I do not believe that practice or learning of any sorts should be all cutesy and fun. I believe in hard work and learning or practicing a musical instrument is hard work.
Realizing our need for an attitude change, I recently spent some time with them telling them about the power of music to soothe and comfort the heart in a way that a sermon or a Bible verse or a book or a movie cannot. I reminded them that people come to church (or to kids’ recitals) with their problems, with their worries, with their issues. Music helps lift their burdens.
The kids’ music is, in a sense, an act of service: they have worked hard and they will get nothing material out of it. More skills, yes, but no money or a trip or an award and not even a sticker. Only the satisfaction that they have touched somebody, somehow. Even that may be wishful thinking. We don’t get a real confirmation other than a polite comment here and there from those who care enough to say a kind word.
This is what art is all about: service. We reach out through art to impart joy, comfort, peace, and perhaps clarity in someone’s heart. I remember so many times in my own experience when I was very confused but music brought clarity to my heart. I gave them a pep talk right before they practiced Twinkle as a duet. Before the pep talk, they could not hold the same tempo, the older got impatient with the younger, and it was just a mess. There was no harmony to speak of, literally or symbolically.
After the pep talk, I could actually see it on their faces. They changed the focus from themselves to the “audience.” We were still in the living room, but I told them they were going to perform for real people who need comfort and soothing and a beautiful song to speak to their hearts. Especially the little one straightened up and did amazingly better.
In epic movies, there’s always the speech before the battle. The troops rally and the victory is won. Oh, wow, I thought, it actually works in real life, with little people who play their squeaky violins!
And on we march, toward another performance, a little wiser for the journey, both mom and little ones.