Music(ly) Challenge(d)

This is the summer of comings and goings.  Good thing my God sticks right along with me since I couldn't bear this journey alone!  My family is much more mobile, and as their ages grow in number, so too does their school and community involvements.  I am proud to say we have a family of burgeoning leaders.

One such leadership position for our music lover is Drum Major.  Now for those of you whose reaction to that line is "Cool, I always wanted to be a drummer" or "Wow! you must really like drumming", stop right there: Drum Major is NOT starring in the drum line, it's the guy (or gal) who is at the head of the band and directing them.  And when I say directing them, I don't mean that they stand at the head and weave their hands to the beat of the music.  Now that I'm in my second year as a proud mom, I can say for certain that the kids at the front of the band put in, on average, 10x more effort, time, and study into band class and performing.  These kids are leaders in their own right, love music to a degree us mere aficionado's cannot fathom, and go on to marry these two loves into conducting.

We had the honor of attending the closing program at the Drum Major camp Will attended.  The afternoon was blazing hot and upon seeing him for the first time since dropping his excited self off in the dorms the Sunday prior (hopefully he put just a bit more effort into making his bed than he did at first. . .yep. probably not) I was thrilled to greet him with a giant hug.  He of the bright blue eyes and now tanned to crispness stood tall, straight, and sure of his great accomplishments and strength he gained throughout the week.  He stood with an aura of honor that could not be mistaken.  Actually, it would be nearly impossible since all of the kids participating were just like him:  kids who loved music to a degree of driving their parents nuts, similar to our home, parents who suffer through freezing, wet temperatures at Fall  football games to watch their child....not pummel and get pummeled by the other team, but to shine during the halftime show.

It's quite frustrating to watch people dismiss this showcase of effort,  hard work, and time the band kids have put into their program.  There are some who do not; but many, many others take the time allotted at half-time to run and get food, visit the restroom or head off to their car for another blanket.  I can see and have heard  that "it's just the band".  Well, the band has put in, on average, the same amount of hours as the football players themselves into practice.  They have football camp?  The band has band camp.  Hours in the hot sun practicing?  We got that.  Memorization of plays?  Yep.  Physical workouts and fitness?  Oh yes.  If you don't agree, try marching multiple steps at the same time, keeping time, carrying a 5-20 lb instrument, and playing that instrument strong and loud for 12 minutes.  Get back with me once you've tried it, then we'll discuss athleticism.  There's no 'benching' a band member.  Those kids are all out there, putting themselves on the line to perform and if one is out of step, you and I know it.

I have five athletes and I include band in that list.  Our family sport is Track and Field which, I'm afraid, again gets dismissed as a continual training ground for football.  That's a shame. Kids in Track compete, ultimately, against themselves, consistently trying to better their time in an atmosphere suspiciously lacking of the severe competition of a contact sport or elitism of baseball.  I love watching the boys run, championing each of his individual events, and usually still come in towards the rear of the pack.  How awesome is it that I witness the bravery of a child willing to put himself out there just for the fun of it?!  I can say that it truly does not matter to me what his time is or where he ranked - my question of the day is usually "Did you have fun?" and if the answer is "yes", than we have had a successful day. 

I know I will get some flack for this; just as I know that I will get kudos from other parents in my situation.  See, in our view, we attempt to teach the kids that the prize is in the experiences, the bettering of self, the adoration of music, learning how to be a better leader, not how to diminish a kid because he happens to live in a different school district. The prize is meeting new kids, building camaraderie with them, sharing their awkwardness with them and, in the band example, finding other kids with an inordinate love of music.

I'm so proud of all of my boys.  I pray that God continues to guide, direct, and refine them in the ways of reaching for the horizon - not a pinnacle of human horizons, as in a vocation, but the horizon of Eternity, bringing along light, laughter, and friends along the way.


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