Monday, May 09, 2005

Mother's Day & Music

I am going to vary off the usual topics today for the purpose of making some comments on events that took place this past weekend.

First, I want to mention Mother's Day. If you have a mother, I hope you recognized her contribution to your life. My mom has had so many positive influences in forming who I am today. Though my mom is now 81 and I am comfortably in middle age, I am still buoyed by her smile, her cheerful voice, and her enthusiasm that greets me every time we meet or we talk on the phone. I know that no matter how others may feel about me at the time, I can count on my mom to be in my corner. That is immensely comforting.

At our church, we did the traditional thing of honoring mothers on Mother's Day. Included in this ceremony was a tea bag with a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: Women are like tea. You don't know how strong they are until they get in hot water. There is a lot of truth in that, I must say. So, hats off to mothers everywhere. You really have more influence in the world that many of us believe -- until we stop and think about all you have done for us.

Second, on a related topic, I also had some experiences with my kids this past weekend that are worth sharing. On Friday evening, my wife and I went to beautiful Atlantic, Iowa, for the southwest Iowa large group music festival. The folks in Atlantic have a wonderful, pristine town with nice people. It is worth the stop off of Interstate 80 just to drive through their community. You can sense a lot of commitment and community involvement there.

We witnessed several groups performing, including our daughter's group from St. Albert and our son's group from Treynor. All of these kids were immensely focused and enthusiastic about their music. They all put in long hours, and their directors (Mr. Spann and Mr. Jensen, respectively) and their accompanists (the lovely and capable Mrs. Schmitt and Mrs. Stephany) have such immense talent that they dedicate so thoughtfully and thoroughly to these kids. If you have a moment when you think the next generation is going the wrong direction, go attend a music concert at your local high school. You may be right about some kids, but these kids involved in music are making steps in the right direction.

Like most athletes, many of the students involved in high school music programs are not bound for professional careers in music. A few stars like Mr. Spann (who incidentally taught my son's director, Mr. Jensen, when he was a cub) will go on to long careers in teaching, while still others may go on to be performers in other capacities. However, most will simply go on to study other things that will ultimately for the basis for their work. But they will do so with the richness of the soul that comes from learning something about music, and the commitment to excellence in small things that this study engenders. My hat is also off to people like Mr. Spann and Mr. Jensen, and those who help them kindle a flame for truth and beauty in young people. These people are doing phenomenal good and they deserve more recognition for it.

Thanks for bearing with me on this digression.

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