The Music Man

If you are like me, You can’t help but to appreciate people who have special talents and gifts…especially when you know that you don’t possess them.

Over my lifetime, I’ve seen many a people excel in various skills that leave me in awe of their talent. But looking back, I have to admit, for me personally, there is one particular skill that stands above all others. It is that of a band director/instructor.

And I’m not talking about the ones that lead professional symphonies in large metropolitan cities throughout the country.

It’s the ones who work in our public schools and leave their handprints on novice musicians just starting out.

One in particular is Joe Watson, who has been the band instructor at Prairiland ISD for as long as…well…I just know he had black hair when he started working here way back when.

Before I started teaching here at PISD, I used to sub a lot. And occasionally, I’d be called in to sub for Joe. Kids often mistook us for each other. In fact, a lot of people did. We used to joke that we were brothers separated at birth. I actually believe on one occasion that I subbed for his band class…that those group of kids never knew they had a sub that day. I just got up and directed them in songs as if I knew what I was doing, which was funny to me since I can’t read a note of music.

But over the years, never have I grown tired of seeing what is nothing short of a miracle with what he does with his students. As a 6th grade teacher myself, and bus driver, I see the kids at the beginning of the year…signing up eagerly to be a part of band. They get those new instruments and it’s comical to watch them try and assemble them in my classroom or on my bus. Early on, they wouldn’t know a clarinet reed from a popsicle stick.

Most of the kids have had no musical training at all when they first come in. Yet…within months…they assemble in that band hall, instruments put together…sit before a music stand with funny looking paper with funny looking markings on them, and somehow…start blowing air and actually make…Music!

Words simply cannot express the wonder of what transpires over a few months in that classroom. You’d just have to witness it for yourself.

I attended the spring concert last night held in the gym of the high school. And once again, I marveled (in-between taking pictures) as those 6th graders performed before a large crowd. Then the next age level of 7th and 8th graders did their thing. The show ended with the high school band performing. They truly…sounded amazing to me. And it was just not long ago when those high-schoolers were fumbling with their new instruments and blowing saliva over everything within a 6 foot radius.

I was thinking this morning on my bus route…how out of all the professions there are in this world, I can think of no other that resembles the role that would come close to what God’s job is. Seriously.

The band director takes in these young kids…teaches them to play an instrument, helps them to discover their part…encourages them to develop their gift…then brings them all together with other such students…and somehow creates harmony…a song…a symphony.

Isn’t that what God tries to do with his creation? Take us in…develop our gifts…and encourage us to find our part and work together with others…to create a melody of sorts?

I know the first time the Lord came to earth, he came as a carpenter. But had he come in a more modern time, I have no doubt how he would have come as- a Jr high band teacher.

I doubt God needs my advice…or a job. But just in case, one opened up here at Prairiland. Joe is moving on to a new chapter in his life and won’t be back next year.

We’ll miss you Joe. You’ve been a great friend and colleague.

And you’ve been an Awesome Band Director.