Several weeks ago I was talking to a friend whose daughter started school this year. She is absolutely determined that her daughter will play organized sports.
"It doesn't have to be soccer, but she HAS to play a sport. If she doesn't, I don't know what she'll be ... a band nerd?? I'm not having a band nerd for a daughter."
I smiled and nodded, like I knew where she was coming from, and she went on her merry way. Then I couldn't stop thinking about it.
First of all, I don't really know where she's coming from. I haven't played an organized sport (besides church ball - story for another day!) since 2nd grade. And not only do I not feel bad about it, I don't care if my kids play sports either. I've attended enough games to know that many people turn into less civilized, more profane versions of themselves in the name of "competition." I have lost respect for several individuals after seeing their behavior during a heated moment in a game.
Why are we all okay with this? Why do we want our kids to see and do it too?
Second, I am a band nerd. I played flute in band from 4th grade through 12th, and my memories from school band are some of my most cherished. That last rehearsal before a concert, when everything comes together - that moment the conductor raises his hands - that terrifying first note of a solo - that twisting knot in the pit of a nervous stomach. Singing for jazz band, cummerbunds, ice cream celebrations, I still miss it all sometimes.
And the things I learned from music! Show me how playing a sport in school is more beneficial to a person throughout their life than learning an instrument is. Show me how a person can bless other people by kicking a ball well. Show me how the vulgarity and oft-degrading environment of athletics is better than the poise and precision of musicianship.
And I will show you how music is good for the soul. I'll show you the growth I've seen in my own life, in my own piano and voice students as they gained confidence through mastery. I'll show you the overwhelming support of the parents I deal with on a regular basis. I'll show you the healing that comes from a good practice session, the elation from a well-executed performance.
I'll show you that life doesn't get much better than it is when you're singing.
That's what I want for my kids.