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Band – it’s not just about playing an instrument!
If you had told me 20 years ago that I would be teaching elementary/middle school band, I would have laughed! My music adventure is completely a “God-story” – and that story may be for another post! Growing up, I was surrounded with music. My mother was a church organist and my father (still, at age 88) plays the viola. I started piano lessons in Kindergarten, was involved in church and school choirs throughout my youth. I went to college and majored in music with an emphasis in voice and piano. In 1993, I began teaching general music and choir at Brookfield Christian School. At that time, a local music store came into the school to provide instrumental lessons and a band experience for a small group of students. The school board wisely decided that band should be an integral part of the curriculum and, in 1998, sent me back to school to learn how to teach instrumental music. With the help of others, the “new and improved” band program at BCS (then MCS) took off, allowing students to discover their musical gifts and use them to honor God!
As I went to school to learn about instruments, I also had to learn to play them all. (That’s part of my God-story). As an adult, this was no small task! I can only imagine what it’s like as a 10-year-old. Here are some non-music lessons lessons I learned:
Playing an instrument is not easy. It takes a lot of patience and perseverance to play well. The professionals make playing look so easy. And yes, for a few gifted people, it does come quickly. For the rest of us, we work long and hard at it.
Playing an instrument and being in band also teaches discipline. It takes practice to get better. There’s that dreaded “P” word! Many have compared band to an athletic team. Just as at a sports practice, the team must run endless drills to improve their skills, so must the musician. There are many similarities between sports and music. Both have many players with varying abilities and roles. Both have a leader (coach/director). Both require technical practice and drills. Both emphasize the importance of the practices in preparation for actual playing (game/concert). It has been said that the team is only as strong as its weakest link. This is often true and is a good reminder that one becomes better with consistent practice. However, as in sports, drills only improve skills to a point. Putting those skills into a real time application helps players understand why the drill was important . For a band student who plays the same note twenty times in a song, it may seem boring and meaningless. But when those notes get put together with other notes, beautiful music occurs. Rarely is there a solo played in band. It’s a team experience!
Playing an instrument teaches the joy of accomplishment – a “job well done.” There’s nothing like the excitement of a student when they “get” a note or understand how to count a passage. I remember when I was learning to play the oboe. It was very difficult! I think my family had to listen to a lot of horrid sounds until one day, I got it! My notes were in tune and the family could recognize the song I was playing. It’s that patience, perseverance and discipline that gets you to the “well done” stage.
Finally, being in band teaches a LOT of responsibility. Although this is not a lesson I learned as I was learning to play all the band instruments, it is most certainly something that my students hear about. Students must remember their instrument, music and practice sheets weekly. Yes, there’s that “P” (practice) word again! I insist that the sheets come in on time with a goal that everyone will learn responsibility and timeliness in band class.
Life lessons of patience, perseverance, discipline, practice and responsibility are lessons I have continued to learn throughout my adventures as a music educator. Perhaps they are the most valuable lessons learned in band class as well.
Please join us in the Brookfield Christian School cafeteria at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, November 15 for our Fall Parent Education Night. The event is free and open to all parents in the community. Invite a friend! We will be hosting a discussion on child and adolescent anxiety.
We live in a world where students face more and more pressure and stress at ever younger ages. As parents, it can be challenging to discern when a child’s anxiety is more than just typical childhood worries. Dr. Paul Veldhouse, a BCS parent and pediatrician with Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, and Elizabeth Austin, a primary therapist at Rogers Memorial Hospital Child and Adolescent Center, will be sharing their insights into childhood anxiety and how to support your children as they grow and develop. A time for questions and answers will follow their presentation.
Questions? Contact the Brookfield Christian School office at (262) 782-4722 or email@example.com.
Every Monday morning, our staff meets together for a time of devotion and prayer. Each teacher takes a turn preparing and presenting the devotion for the week. With their permission, we will be sharing their devotions here from time to time.
Recently, my students learned about “The Armor of God.” One of the pieces is the “Sword of the Spirit” – the only piece that is for offense, or fighting! You may recall that the sword is the powerful Word of God – the Bible!
We know that all the Scripture in this all-time best selling book is equally true. However, it is not all equally understood. One part I struggle with understanding and following is James 1:24. James says, “Consider it pure joy my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Ok, I get that “no pain, no gain” thing here, but that testing part? God already knows how I’ll react to these trials, so the testing is for me to find out how I will deal with the challenge. I get most of this. But that little 3-letter word: JOY. That’s the part I struggle with. JOY. When I think of joy, I think of how friends feel after sharing news that they’re expecting a child, or how a dad catching a 26-inch bass with his son might feel. Now, those things I consider pure joy!
Yet God wants us to embrace the tough times that all Christians are guaranteed to experience. You see, for Christians, those trials are not a matter of if, but when. Maybe you’re in a category 5 trial right now. Are you, like me, challenged to have that joyful attitude all the time, even in the toughest times? Why does God allow these things to happen to His children? As parents, we try to help our children avoid tough times. As teachers, we want only the best for our students. So what’s the deal here? It can be difficult to grasp that part of Scripture.
How quickly I forget that God is God and I am not. God sees everything while I see a little. Just as we as parents and teachers want only the best for our children, God too, only wants what’s best for us. We want our children to trust us because we love them and would do anything for them, but they don’t necessarily trust us, and it always hurts our feelings. Imagine how God feels, then, when we don’t trust Him. It’s like we don’t believe His promises.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (My emphasis added.) I’m beginning to see some purposes here. We are strengthened through the tough times and we are equipped to help others later on after the storm passes. What can I do in the midst of the trial when I may not be jumping for joy?
Just as in most things in life, we have a choice. When the storm clouds roll into our lives, and they will, we can choose to be bitter, forgetting the promises of God and letting the circumstances overpower our faith, or we can trust God to make us better and, in turn, help make others better. So, let’s not waste these times of trial. If we can’t always be joyful, let’s still be faithful.