Another thought jumped out at me during the Winter Concert.
These kids, sixty of them from 4 or 5 different classes, have been rehearsing these songs once or twice a week for months. A great deal of preparation and practice has led up to this concert. Several papers have been sent home gently reminding us to help the kids learn the words.
Our kids knew the chorus best in our home practice sessions. It’s the only part they wanted to sing. Ever. They were pretty strong on the first verse. The second verse was fairly shaky and the third verse could have been nothing but entirely improvised. They kept coming back to the chorus, which they freely belted out during bathtime, walking down the street and once in the middle of church.
Now the concert’s about to begin and it’s the moment of truth. Most of the kids are staring intently at the music teacher at the piano. One of them is staring at the ceiling and picking his nose. A little girl has her eyes clenched shut.
The notes on the piano play and most of the kids begin singing. Early on in the song, they get all the words right and they are together in spirit and in effort. The first verse and the chorus are locked-in. Once the second verse starts, things go downhill pretty quickly.
Individual voices start to stand out above the rest. The kids begin to follow the loudest and closest voice, right or wrong. They lose sight of the real leader and their real purpose. They try to fall in line with one another and hope for the best.
They try so hard to be together with each other. They want to be together. They want to be that united voice that they had in the beginning, but they’ve lost something. They have begun to follow each other and following becomes all they can do. Their song is a beat late. Their words are a syllable late.
By halfway through the third verse, all sixty are no longer together. We have ten or twelve together over here, eight or nine together over there and small pockets of 2 or 3 are together all over the place. One kid in the back row gives up and sits down. The music teacher plays harder, holding on to the idea that if they can hear the notes she will regain control.
The third and most uncertain verse grinds to a painful halt. In a moment that was somehow both brief and eternal, the most amazing thing happens. Out of silence and uncertainty, the bold and familiar piano notes bring them back. Confidence blooms slowly and brightly on their faces and they are led into the part they know the best.
Together again, they sing the chorus and they are loud. Lost confidence has been found. What they have practiced the most pulls them back together again. Familiarity creates unity.
They end just like they began. Strong, confident, loud and together.
It’s amazing what can happen when you stop, listen and focus on the One who is in control.