I had the pleasure of being on stage quite a bit in high school and college. Not as a musician - ha! that is actually kind of comical because I don't think I could carry a tune in a bucket. I was involved in most of the plays during my high school career and some during college. In high school I was mostly in the ensemble or had small speaking parts. In college I had some more significant roles, but I was an average actor at best. But, I loved it. With every fiber of my being I loved being on stage, and being a part of something that made others laugh, or think, or wonder, or feel, or all of the above. I loved that feeling of coming to the edge of the stage for a bow, and looking out at the audience through the stage lights and seeing faces of appreciation and smiles. I loved the feeling of camaraderie one got from being a part of a cast - a part of a whole.
I remember going to see Sarah and her friends perform High School Musical (Jr version) when she was in Middle School. When the students came to the front of the stage to take a bow, I bawled like a baby. (Oh my goodness, who cries at High School Musical - Junior version none the less!) The look on the kids faces as the audience stood with applause - I understood their pride and success and feeling of connection. I felt it for them. That happens to me almost every time I see a live production or concert. Whether my children are involved or not, I feel it.
I have had the pleasure and the honor of attending the most amazing musical experiences over the past two weeks. Right here in Lawrence. Last week the instrumental winter concert. Last night the vocal winter concert. Brilliant. Both brilliant, and moving, and generated such emotion for me. The emotional connection these students made to people when they were on stage creating such beauty - it is breathtaking. Their music makes me feel alive.
Gillian is deeply ingrained in the instrumental music program at Lawrence High School. She plays trombone and is a member of the marching band (Red Scare), jazz band, pit band (hopefully), takes an instrumental music class every year, and a large portion of her friends are those that are involved in the music program as well. When Gillian was in fourth grade she got to pick an instrument to play in the intermediate school music program. She picked trombone. I remember Adam and I thinking this would be a short lived experience as her sister found out pretty quickly that music was not for her. But Gillian would prove us wrong at every turn. She continued to play and practice and improve until playing the trombone became "her thing". She continued to play and practice and improve until music became "her thing".
I believe Gillian spent a lot of her younger years proving us wrong. Born a bit premature, we were sure she would have some issues. Yes, it took her a bit longer to crawl and walk and talk. No issues. Once she hit those milestones she took off. Almost like she set out to prove to us and the world that there is absolutely nothing she can not do. And that is how she approached music. She was going to be a musician, and will continue to be a musician. She was going to be a learner, and will continue to be a learner. She was going to be an organizer, and will continue to be an organizer. She was going to be a beautiful soul, and will always be a beautiful soul.
So as I watched Gillian and her friends perform on stage over the past week or so, I felt deeply moved by the music they created. Not only because of my experience, but because of theirs. Whether it be with the trombone or their voices, what they are creating is a way to connect to the world and make our lives a little more beautiful.