All People

I am having difficulty focusing on anything today. I wish I could say it was simply a lack of caffeine, but that is not possible. Maybe it’s the barrage of negative news. Not just today, but almost every day for what seems like a very long time.

With today’s instant information, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. We have the ability to know what is happening on the other side of the world in a matter of minutes. And we have the means through various social media outlets to express our opinions on said happenings. With that ability, however, comes responsibility.

The responsibility part seems to be missing from much of the current online posts, tweets, discussions, etc. Should I be able to spit out words of hatred toward others without consequences? I certainly don’t believe so, and hope others would agree.

Much of the current news involves immigration. Personally, I cannot begin to understand the plight of individuals seeking freedom and safety. I’ve never had to worry about fleeing my home due to fear. Yet, it is my responsibility as someone who has experienced the love of Christ to view the situation through the lens of love.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” I Corinthians 13:4-5

At this moment, I’m not sure what that looks like in terms of personal action. But I do know it begins with my attitude. My heart. And my heart tells me people need to experience love. People desire to live in safety. People deserve to live in freedom. All people.

“He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.” Deuteronomy 10:18

Encouraging Student Musicians

Today was solo-n-ensemble contest day. I spent the entire day accompanying brass, string, and woodwind players. Twenty-five of them to be exact. These young musicians spent many hours over the last weeks and months preparing for today. Choosing a piece, learning notes and rhythms, memorizing, rehearsing with their accompanist.

Today, all of their hard work culminated in one brief performance. Each of them walked into a room, faced their judge, and began to play. Making beautiful music. That is the point. At least, it is supposed to be…

No student walks in that room thinking, “I really hope I don’t play well today. Hopefully, I will have a big memory slip.” Those statements are ridiculous! Each student hopes for positive results. They want to play their best. They are hoping for the highest rating and a chance to move on to the next level.

After some of the first ratings posted this morning, I overheard a disturbing conversation. Students who had received their scores were warning other students. “Well, if you make one mistake, there’s no way you will receive a I (the highest score.)” They were attempting to prepare their friends for probable disappointment in this particular room.

Don’t misunderstand; I’m not suggesting everyone deserves the highest rating. I certainly would not want to be in the judge’s seat. However, I can speak as a professional musician concerning our responsibility to these young musicians. If we are pushing perfection, we have it all wrong.

I’m happy to say the other rooms I accompanied in did not have this effect. The atmospheres were inviting and encouraging. The results in those rooms also accurately reflected the performances. Performances of high school musicians, not professional ones.

As adult musicians, college long behind us, career paths chosen, it is easy to forget those early days of learning. The anxiety that often accompanies those first performances. The searching for approval.

Today I was reminded that this seven-minute performance represented so much for these young performers. They needed someone to acknowledge their hard work. And their hopes for positive results rested in the hands of a complete stranger. Hopefully, a stranger who recognized the power they held in those seven short minutes.