Although there’s not a lot of time in my life for leisurely writing these days, I’ve decided to make this blog a fun, stress-reliever for me, and hopefully a source of interesting entertainment/learning for you! I can’t ever come up with things off the top of my head to write about, but once in a while, God will use something in my life to reveal something about Himself to me, and I love to write about those experiences (see my last post about waterslides…). So, here’s my latest little “understanding” from our good teacher…
Those who know me (and maybe those who don’t) know that I have always been and will always be a band geek. I started playing the trumpet when I was in fifth grade and played through the whole beginning band book at home the first week I got it. I knew immediately that music was my thing. In sixth grade, I decided that I wanted to learn another instrument. I had my heart set on percussion, but alas, the district rules said I had to have two years of piano before I could play percussion (I also think my band director was trying to rescue me from the craziness that is the percussion section). So, instead of trading in my trumpet for sticks and mallets, I got a new piece of metal, this time with a reed. Saxophone became my new thing. Long story short, I loved music a lot, did pretty much everything a girl could do related to music throughout middle and high school and eventually fell in love with marching band (and later drum corps). After marching four years in my high school marching band and two years with the Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps, my body decided it had had enough, so I began to teach!
Teaching marching band is now one of my favorite things. It brings me so much joy to watch students enjoy one of my favorite activities and get to help them grow as marchers, musicians, performers, and human beings. My favorite moment is when a young marcher is struggling to do something and then, after so much hard work, something finally clicks! The look on their face when I get to say, “I’m proud of all the hard work you put in to get here. It paid off and you look great,” is priceless. I am excited when my students are excited, frustrated when they are frustrated, sad when they are sad. I rejoice when they remember what they’ve been taught and apply it to look and sound good, and I wish for more for them when they don’t quite live up to their potential. It is always a rollercoaster of emotions and energy teaching marching band, and any decent teacher can attest to that.
Recently, we had a rehearsal that was especially tumultuous, and it left me thinking a lot…The beginning of rehearsal was great! The students were obviously committed to giving their best effort: their marching looked the best I had seen it all season; they were performing every rep; the brass sounded as beautiful, resonant, and in tune as I had ever heard them before, and everyone was obviously excited to be challenged and to get better. As we moved into ensemble rehearsal (where we put all of the sections together and run larger chunks of the show), something began to change. The brass started to sound bright, quiet, and pinched. The marching technique began to break down. No one was adjusting the spacing between them and the person next to them. No matter what I said to try to get them to do things better, the rehearsal continued to go downhill. I realized later that most of the students had forgotten the fundamentals we spend the first half of rehearsal working on and were now just overthinking everything, trying to do their best to get through the reps. They were putting forth so much effort, just not in the right way. This caused them to get tense, and forget all of the training we as staff work so hard to engrain in them.
As I sat frustrated in my car, reflecting on the rehearsal, God used what I was feeling about this rehearsal to show me something about what He feels about us as His children.
I have this deep desire for my students to realize the potential they have to be absolutely incredible. As a teacher, I have seen glimpses of it and can imagine what it would be like if everyone got there, but the students can’t see it. They only see me as a teacher giving them commands of things to do better, and even though I explain why we spend so much time on certain things in basics, or why it’s so important to keep your horn up during the show, they can’t see the potential in themselves that I can. So they do the things I tell them, but when they get tired, they forget. They forget the basics and end up overthinking everything. They try to muscle their way through the drill moves and the music without applying the fundamentals, and it crashes and burns every time. I’m never mad at them for doing this; I am sad for them, because they haven’t experienced what it feels like to perform when you’re not stressed about doing everything right. When the fundamentals of marching and playing come naturally, everything falls into place and you can perform and have fun. I just want them to experience that feeling!
God is the same way, but on a much larger scale that just marching band. He has a deep desire for us, His children, to see ourselves as He sees us: to recognize that we are fearfully and wonderfully made in His image, and that even when we fail (in our minds), He still loves us. In fact, He gave us His words (the Bible) to teach us the fundamentals of what it means to live a life with Him at the center, and to give us a glimpse of what it could look like if we all lived in the way He made us to live. But, when we forget the fundamentals (the things that our relationship with God should be built on), we end up striving, taking matters into our own hands, and trying to live life without God’s help. We crash and burn, just like the end of a marching rehearsal full of overthinking and forgetting the basics. But God doesn’t get mad at us…He gets sad for us! God is sad because we aren’t experiencing true fulfillment, peace, and lack of fear or worry that comes when we stand firm and remember His fundamental truths and promises. This was such a cool reminder to me to rest in the truths of who God is and who He made me to be instead of striving to do things for Him and taking matters into my own hands. God is the ultimate teacher, and so so much more!
**Update: The band did awesome at their competition this Saturday! They are finally starting to remember the basics and it’s so much fun!