Monday, March 16, 2015

Listening to the Music

Teaching our fourth son to ride a bike without training wheels.  It seems like we should have it down by now, the whole art of teaching a child to ride a bike, but each son learns so different. 

Caleb's band teacher invited us to an evening entitled "Painting with Music."  Because Caleb adores his band teacher, we went seemingly knowing little about the event.

We arrived and made ourselves at home in the high school band room.  The band director, a true spitfire in every sense of the term, commanded attention from the podium.  He encouraged the students to grab their instruments, and he let my little ones select a percussion instrument to play.  He then explained how the evening would work: he would describe a scene, show a picture, or play a movie.  The children were then to match the music they would play with their mental image of that scene, picture, or movie.  

The band director first described a traffic jam filled with horns, frustration, and loud voices. He let the image soak into the little musician minds.  Then, he raised his arms and directed the children to commence.  Caleb blasted his trumpet in a sound that mirrored a horn.  The other students followed on clarinets, electric guitars, violins, and more.  My little ones tapped on snare drums and beat on the xylophones.

The clamor from the combination of instruments sounded messy to me.  In fact, I wondered if this sort of exercise could be used as a torture technique by the US government.  After a few minutes of it, I felt my mental stability start to wane.

I noticed the band director walking around the room.  He stopped by each student and intently listened to their play.  I noticed how he could narrow in on that student's play while drowning out the masses.  And so I started to do that too.  I tried to listen, really listen, to my children's music.  I noticed how they tried to draw out the image of frustrations with the use of their instruments.  I appreciated this about each individual child, but it took me choosing to cut my way through the noise and chaos to really listen and focus on each son.

I thought about our lives, about how hard it is to sift through the noise and busyness that seems to stick to our household.  I thought about how I really want to hear the music each child plays, but it requires focus, time, and the ability to drown out distractions.

On Sunday night, I convinced (bribed would be a better term) Caleb to take a walk with me.  We wandered through the neighborhood and set our sights on a pond (hopefully) teeming with creatures.  I left my phone on the counter.  His brothers were left at home.

As we walked, I was able to truly listen to him.  All distractions were gone.  With each step, he gave me a peek into his world.  As we neared home, I concluded that the best sounds in the world comes from the mouths of my children....when I really hear it.   

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