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When I was growing up, I had a mini life crisis. At nine years old, I was in turmoil over what I would be when I “grew up.” I remember sitting at our dining table in tears. I felt if I didn’t decide in that moment, I would forever wander aimlessly. I diligently studied my dad’s career book (circa. 1982) for about an hour and finally sealed my destiny. I would be a “court typist.” It didn’t matter I had no idea what a court typist actually DID. Based on my fast typing skills, I guess it fit.
Perhaps if High Interest Day existed back then, my limited exposure to career and activity choices wouldn’t have come from an outdated book. Instead, I learned my bent (a specific interest in which my focus/direction “bends”) through solid parental role models, who opened doors to thoughts and ideas and hobbies and skills that I never knew existed.
Does your child like dancing? Drawing? Blowing bubbles or making paper airplanes? Do they enjoy sports like gymnastics, tennis, Frisbee, karate? What about natural science like physics or the weather? Do they dream of one day being a doctor, engineer, mechanic, policeman, soldier or actor? Or do they just want to make more allowance money? Exposing them to a spread of interests gives them options and opportunity to find their calling, their skills and talents, their bend. And who better than parents and members of the community with similar beliefs and safeguards? And where better than BCS?
This is what High Interest Day is all about. On May 13, BCS students in grades 1-8 had the opportunity to choose three out of the 29 sessions offered outside their regular curriculum. Organizers recruited parent and community volunteers to spend the afternoon with students sharing about their area of expertise. Kids were able to give changing a tire a shot, learn how to swing a tennis racket, identify patterns in their fingerprints, blow monster bubbles and much more.
Needless to say, I didn’t become a court typist. It took a teacher to see my potential as a writer, to open doors and provide opportunity for growth. And that’s what High Interest Day can do for your child!
At this year’s CEA convention, I presented a session called “Incorporating Music Instruction into the General Ed Classroom”. As I prepared for the session, I read every Bible verse with the word “music” or “singing” in it. There are hundreds of these verses but the one that stood out to me was Psalm 33:3, “Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.” It occurred to me as I read and reflected on these verses that if we are commanded to sing and make music to praise God, we need to do it “skillfully” as this verse commands. Providing a solid music education at BCS is one way we can fulfill this command, but we must also continue the rich tradition of music making in our churches and in our homes.
I’ve had many adults and parents say to me over the years, “oh, I can’t sing”, “I’m not musical at all” or “I’m tone deaf” when I suggest that they sing to their young children at home. The great news is that you don’t have to be a great singer to sing to your children! My youngest son hated being in his carseat as a baby. The only way to calm him was for me to sing to him. This worked not because I had a master’s degree in music or had studied voice for years; it was because I am his mother and he loved hearing my voice. And no, you aren’t tone deaf. Sorry, you can’t use that excuse anymore. Only 4% of the population is affected with this musical disability, and in my 14 years of teaching, I have never met anyone who truly has this disorder.
A recent study from Northwestern University suggests that singing is like learning any other instrument; you need good instruction and regular practice. Children who received singing instruction retained their abilities into adulthood. This study supports an active music program in schools but research also suggests that we need to start early (i.e.before a child goes to school) if we want to create musically literate and skillful children.
“Instruction in singing for all preschoolers means singing to them, with them, and for them. A child who has heard much singing will produce parts of songs by age two; at age three, many children are tuneful singers who posses quite an extensive repertoire of songs. The preschool years are ones when language skills are developing rapidly; singing skills, another form of language, should develop as well.” (McDonald and Simons (1989), p. 89)
One of the most touching moments of my life was when my oldest son began singing recognizable songs around age 3. Even though I had been trained in music and singing and knew this was possible, the joy of hearing his little voice is indescribable. I am even more overjoyed when I hear my sons singing in worship and praising God through song. As parents, worship is a place we can lead by example. If our children see and hear us participating in music in worship, then they are more likely to participate as well. That’s not to say you have to sing a solo; just singing along with the congregation sets the tone for our children.
I also believe that God gives certain people talent in music and singing. I definitely see this in my life! However I don’t think we are let off the hook from using music to praise God just because it isn’t our particular gift or talent. I think there is just too much evidence to the contrary in the Bible. So feel free to belt out that worship song in the car on the way to school. Your kids may roll their eyes, but they are learning an important lesson. We all can praise God through song.