Wednesday, September 1, 2010


One of Ryan’s latest objects of fascination is the guitar that sits on a stand in our living room. He stumbled across it one day as he was exploring, and ever since that discovery, he makes several trips every day to visit it.

As he does with everything else within reach, he loves to bang on it. But being a musical instrument, it has the added fascination of making music (not just noise) when he bangs it. The strings hum with sympathetic vibrations when he bangs on the side, and if he happens to bang on the strings themselves – or even better, if he brushes his hand across them – they ring out with a loud chord. He is absolutely astonished by the sounds it makes. He often bangs on it, then turns to me with an amazed grin, as if to say, “Do you HEAR that???” He’ll often move away after a few minutes but then suddenly make a U-turn and come right back, as if a magnet is pulling him back to it.

I love his fascination with sounds and especially with music. I hope it’s a precursor of musical appreciation and talent to come. Music was always a big part of my life, and it has given me confidence, discipline, and opportunities. I learned confidence from having a skill that not everyone has and from discovering something that I excel at. I learned discipline from practicing even when it wasn’t fun – and from seeing the results of that practicing. I’ve had the opportunity to travel all over the world and meet all kinds of new people because of my involvement with music.

Above and beyond confidence, discipline, and opportunity, it was through music that I met many of the friends I’ve had throughout my life. The friends from high school and college with whom I still keep in touch are nearly all ones I knew from band and chorus and musical theater. The majority of the friends I’ve made as an adult are those I’ve sung with, whether in church or in the theater or in a choral group. And I know I’m not alone in the long-lasting relationships I’ve developed through music. Just yesterday, my family had lunch with my in-laws and two of my father-in-law’s former music students – from literally over fifty years ago. His relationship with student Luke, who went on to become a professional musician himself, changed over time from student and teacher, to mentor and protégé, to colleagues and peers. But it endured through all those years because of its foundation in music.

I hope that Ryan gets the same benefits from music. Then maybe fifty or sixty years from now, he’ll be reminiscing with a former musical mentor that he has grown to count as a friend and colleague.

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