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This past week my 11-year-old daughter, Ashley, approached me about playing and singing a song with her for her fifth grade parent-student talent show. It’s an annual tradition at her Catholic school that is designed to get parents interacting with their children and to promote the concept of family participation. I must admit that at first I was a bit ambivalent about participating, as my hair seems to be on fire 24-7. When could I possibly find time to learn the song she wanted to sing and rehearse so we were in the pocket, let alone clear my daily schedule during the closing of an issue to attend in the first place?
With further encouragement from my wife, who also teaches at said school, I decided to bite the bullet, somewhat begrudgingly. Needless to say, we worked up an acoustic rendition of Shania Twain’s “Any Man of Mine.” As we engaged in some serious, crammed rehearsal time the night before the performance, learning the song and working out the harmonies, I quickly realized that what I thought was just going to be another distraction from my hectic schedule was actually a clandestine opportunity for some meaningful personal growth.
As I arrived at her school the next morning, my daughter met me at her classroom door and gave me a kiss on the cheek in front of her classmates, which I thought was unusual but very sweet, for she is getting to the age where public affection towards her parents seems to be rapidly declining on the coolness scale. After waiting patiently for our turn, my daughter led me by the hand to the front of the classroom for our performance. She proceeded to introduce me to her class and informed them of the song she had chosen.
As I started the intro to the song, I noticed an incredibly proud look on my daughter’s face, one that I will never forget. She sang the song with the utmost confidence and passion – I mean she really gave it up! As we finished the song and I looked at her, it was right then and there that I realized this was a moment I will never get back again. More importantly, what a very special gift we were able to share – the gift of music. Not only with my daughter, but with an entire class of the next generation of musical dreamers. The look on their faces was unforgettable. In our very small way, perhaps we inspired that class with the gift of creating music that has the power to transcend age. For a moment I lived vicariously in the body of an 11-year-old child and it was awesome.
As we all get older and strive to find meaning in our hectic lives, we perhaps at times realize that we have been so busy making a living that we forgot how to make a life! The ability to give a little something back can redeem even the most jaded musical soul, especially when we give it back to the next generation.
There are no particular words of wisdom here other than it is these times in life that fate provides you with an emotional wake-up call. I believe that regardless of what you may accomplish in your life, the most enduring measure of your success will be what you provide for others and ultimately what you see in the mirror at the end of each day. No money, public recognition, material possessions or even your body will stand the test of time... but music will. So please, share it with your next generation.