For the past week, an elementary school in Wisconsin has been faithfully rehearsing one of my songs – “We All Have A Song” – for their spring concert. Under the guidance of a one Ms. G, these kids are lending their voices to the following words:
We all have a rhythm
And we all have a pulse
And we all have a song to sing
So find your heartsong
Your heart is the drumbeat
You are as strong
As the earth beneath your feet
It’s amazing to me how this came about. I received an email a couple of weeks ago from Ms. G (an elementary school music teacher) asking for my permission to teach the song to her students. “Of course!” I replied.
She learned the song several years ago from a music therapist in Michigan. That in itself is pretty cool.
Then, on Tuesday, I received this message from her: “[o]ne of my favorite reactions was from one of my third graders. He is such a sweetheart and tries very hard, but doesn’t always succeed. As we were lining up while singing to the end of We All Have A Song, he looked super excited. When the song ended, he exclaimed, ‘Ms. G, I’ve never sang that good before! I love this song!’ Thank you for inspiring my kiddos.”
Wow. How can I get an email like that and not cry? So humbling and inspiring.
Last night was a regular night at the hotel, solo piano, six to ten. I’ve been playing there for nearly eleven years now – holy smokes – and my favorite moments are always the ones that involve children. Over this past decade, I’ve had many kids come up and sit at the bench with me, talk with me, ask questions, request “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and the like, their little legs swinging in the air under the bench.
Then, there are the ones like the little girl who sat at the table directly next to me last night… who kneel on their chairs while they eat, so that they can better see my fingers and then absent-mindedly put down their forks and move their finger tips on the table top, pretending, who blush when I look their way, too shy to come up and say hello.
In my six years as a children’s librarian, I read stories, worked on craft projects, sang songs, banged on plastic tambourines, helped with homework, checked out books, collected hugs. After much soul searching, I left that job nearly four years ago in order to go after the musical golden ring. It was certainly the right thing to do, but I really miss working with young kids every day. Luckily, Shawn and I live downstairs from an amazing family with three young daughters, so I get my kid fix somewhat regularly.
Those moments, when you can witness, in real time, the demonstrable positive effects of your actions in the life of a young child – is there anything better or more worthwhile than that?
I admit – as much as I love children, I’ve always been a little too frightened of the awesome responsibility of bringing a new life into the world. And yes, I realize I’m not getting any younger, either – but I’ve never had a sense of that ticking clock about which many other women speak. Maybe my clock was never wound up. Maybe that sense of urgency just isn’t wired into my DNA.
I’m not sure where I’m going with this… with these words and thoughts, or intentions, or lack thereof. All I know is that whenever I’ve touched the life of a child in some meaningful way, there is simply no better feeling.
To move the heart of a child? That is the definition of success.
Now, if only I could be in Wisconsin to hear those kids sing my song…